As an experienced personal injury attorney in Virginia who specializes in automobile accident cases, I pay particular attention to trucking accidents because they often result in some of the most serious injuries that I deal with in my practice. Some of the most common maintenance problems which happen that cause wrecks with injuries in Virginia are old fashioned basic parts of the equipment that apply to cars but especially to trucks namely:
Tires are obviously where the rubber hits the road. On any 18 wheeler you’ve got far more than just the four tires of a typical passenger car for a reason. Trucks that carry tens of thousands of pounds of material have to have tires that are kept in good shape. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations tell interstate truckers and other large commercial truck operators what are the basic rules about tires and other truck parts. If tires are bald or otherwise rotting that is a major problem. All it takes is one bad tire to make a tractor trailer dangerous on the road. Unfortunately, not all fleets of trucks are kept in good condition. Individual smaller operators also sometimes skimp on their equipment and wait until it’s too late to replace tires. Tires are the responsibility not only of the owner of the truck, and the safety director of the company, but also of the individual driver. Each day before a trucker gets on the road he is supposed to do an inspection of his rig including the tires. Any problems are supposed to be corrected before he pulls out.
Lights on a truck are critical to allow others to see the truck and for the truck driver to be able to see other motorists using the highway. On a tractor-trailer rig there are more lights than just the headlamps. There are lights all around the tractor and trailer for increased visibility to the side and rear. Any kind of low light or reduced visibility situation calls for the highest level of caution on behalf of a commercial truck driver.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules place high importance on the need for properly working lights in reduced-visibility circumstances like fog, smoke or heavy precipitation. Truck drivers are required to not only have good working lights they are required to use them. Lights are critical if for some reason the truck driver has to put on his flashers on the shoulder on a highway like Interstate 64, Interstate 95, or others throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. You often see a truck sitting there on the side of the roadway.
It would really be better if they got off the highway entirely and went to a truck stop or got off the road to get their rig straight if there’s a problem. However if they are going to just pull off onto the shoulder they need to use not only their flashers but flares if they’re going to stay out on the road for a long period of time. It is the responsibility of the truck driver to check on his daily pre-trip inspection that all his lights. It’s also the responsibility of the owner of the truck and the owner of the trucking company to make sure that all the trucks are in good working order and that all the lights are working and are maintained properly.
Brakes are critical to truck safety. Unlike a passenger car which might weigh 2,000 to 5,000 pounds, a truck typically has a gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds and often over 25,000 pounds. That truck sitting next to you with a trailer full of goods could easily be weighing 50,000 or more pounds.
When you’re carrying 25,000 tons of weight it takes more brake power to slow or stop. The kinds of brakes on trucks are fundamentally different than those on a regular car and the way that trucks have to be handled because of braking issues is completely different. The truck driver needs far more space ahead of him to not run into things.
One of the most common kinds of wrecks I see is a basic rear-ender where a dump truck or an 18 wheeler hits a passenger car that is stopped, slowing or even just traveling at the speed limit. In addition to the truck driver not paying enough attention and following too close, there is also the potential for bad or insufficient brakes to contribute to cause rear-end collisions.
As with lights and tires, the trucker and his company are both responsible for good maintenance. Although a trucker has to make sure each day that his rig seems to be working there’s certain aspects of the brake system which can only really be properly and fully addressed by a good maintenance system which requires time and money on behalf of the truck owner. I have seen instances of big trucking companies as well as small ones making bad decisions with respect to brake maintenance that can cost lives. In such cases we are there to help those who have been injured or family members of those who died in trucking wrecks.
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and answers about tractor-trailer accidents on our website, or see our specialist
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