When compared to a car accident, a truck accident is often far more devastating. Even when they are empty, tractor trailer trucks weigh ten times a normal car. This extra weight and force that a truck brings to a collision nearly always results in more damage than what you could expect if it was a normal car. Unfortunately, this extra damage also brings with it the potential for far more serious injuries.
While a significant majority of accidents that were caused by the truck were because of something that the driver did or failed to do, the fact remains that many collisions were caused by something that went wrong with the truck, itself. This can be especially frustrating if you were driving your car at the time of the collision. It means that you were only involved in a serious truck accident because of some easily-preventable problem with the truck's equipment and that the accident should have been avoided or prevented.
Truck Equipment Failure Can Cause Accidents
According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), one out of every ten truck accidents that involved an injury was caused by the truck's equipment. Of course, a truck that weighs more than 30,000 pounds without carrying any cargo has a lot of equipment, so there is a lot that can go wrong. However, when it comes to faulty truck equipment that can fail and cause a severe accident, there are a handful of common culprits. These are the truck's brakes, tires, its load-securing straps and apparatus, and underride bars.
Truck Brake Failures
Brake failures are the most common type of truck equipment failure that can lead to a crash. According to the FMCSA's numbers, nearly 30% of the trucks involved in a crash had brake problems that contributed to it.
Brake failures on a truck can happen in a variety of situations. While it is rare for an entire braking system to fail completely, brakes wear down over time, and most of the wear and tear is not noticeable until a truck needs to stop suddenly. When this happens, a trucker will hit the brakes hard and expect to come to a complete stop at a certain point, but the prior wear on the brakes prevent this from happening. When this is the case, while the brakes did not technically fail during the crash, they also did not work properly because of how poorly they had been maintained in the months before the crash.
A common issue when it comes to truck brake failures is brake imbalance. Different wheels on a truck have their own brakes. When one brake gets worn down more than another – which is common when a single brake is replaced, but the others are left on the vehicle – it can affect how the truck stops, whether it will turn while stopping, and how hot the brake pads will become in an extended braking session, like when the truck descends a long hill. In any of these cases, a truck accident can happen if it takes too long for the truck to come to a stop, if it swings into a jackknife, or if the excess heat causes a brake fire.
Truck Tire Failures
Another common truck equipment failure has to do with the truck's tires. Blowouts and other tire issues can quickly and easily make even an experienced truck driver lose control of their rig, cross lanes, and cause a serious truck accident. Despite the danger, many truckers and trucking companies try to put off changing tires on a tractor trailer for as long as possible, to avoid the expensive price tag of the average tire and the time it takes to replace it.
An often overlooked aspect of driving a truck is how the cargo is packed into the trailer. Tractor trailers can pull 50,000 pounds of cargo, and if it is poorly distributed in the trailer if can make it difficult to control the truck on the highway. Worse, if the cargo shifts it can throw the truck out of control and cause a crash with someone else on the highway. Finally, if the truck is pulling an open or flat-bed trailer, if the load is not secured properly it can fly off and into the traffic behind the truck, causing serious accidents as other drivers try avoiding the debris.
These situations happen far more often than you might expect. According to the FMCSA's numbers, 7% of truck accidents involved one of these failures.
Underride Bar Failures
Below the back of all tractor trailers on the road in the U.S.,that regulations today is a bar that is meant to prevent cars from going underneath the trailer. Accidents like these used to happen so often, and with such disathose regulations have been passed to require trucks to have these underride bars. However, these bars do not stop all cars from sliding underneath a trailer. Some underride bars are not strong enough to prevent these kinds of accidents from happening, while others have corners on them that consistently fail when cars are off to the side of the truck when they collide with the back of the trailer.
When underride accidents like this happen, it is often fatal for the driver. The height of the bed of the truck's trailer is often at head level, making an underride accident especially dangerous.
Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Most of a truck's equipment exists to make sure that the truck's cargo gets from one place to another without a crash. When that same equipment fails, though, it can be disastrous if you were driving your car at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
The personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian are the lawyers you need if you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident that was caused by the truck's failing equipment. Contact us online or call our law office at (800) 529-6162.