Truck accidents are some of the most dangerous kinds of vehicular collisions that can happen on the roads of the District of Columbia. This is due in large part to the fact that trucks are far heavier than normal passenger cars, and this extra weight brings much more force into a crash. While passenger vehicles typically weigh approximately 3,000 pounds, even empty tractor trailers weigh closer to 30,000 pounds. When they are full, a truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which can cause severe damage and injuries in even low-speed truck accidents.
However, in addition to the extra weight involved in a crash that involves a truck, tractor trailers and other trucks are further off the ground than normal passenger vehicles. This means that their fenders are taller than most other vehicles on the road. As a result, in a typical accident involving a truck, the protections offered by the other vehicle are minimized.
Despite these dangers, truckers and trucking companies do not always do all that they can to ensure that their vehicles are safe to drive. Without properly maintaining their vehicles, truck equipment failures are commonplace and can cause severe accidents that can alter your life. If this should ever happen to you or someone you love, enforcing your legal rights to compensation can make a huge difference in your ability to make a full recovery.
Truck Equipment Failures
Every truck has numerous pieces of equipment that are intended to keep everyone safe or help the vehicle maneuver along the roads. However, when one of these pieces of equipment fails, it can quickly result in a serious truck accident or can make a collision far worse than it otherwise might have been.
Here are some examples of the most common kinds of truck equipment failures.
Brake equipment failures are one of the most common contributing factors to a truck accident. Because of the weight of a typical tractor trailer, it can take a long distance for a truck to come to a complete stop, and until it does it can cause a severe crash. This makes the performance of the brake system on a truck absolutely critical to prevent an accident.
Unfortunately, truck brake failures happen very often on the roads of the United States. According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), nearly 30% of all truck accidents that resulted in an injury involved some sort of brake failure.
These brake failures can come in a variety of shapes and forms. The rarest of these is a complete brake failure. Instead, most of these equipment failures involve brakes that have worn out over months or even years of heavy use and then fail to bring a truck to a stop quickly enough in an emergency situation. Another common example of a brake failure is when the brakes on a truck are imbalanced. Because different wheels have their own brakes, some brakes wear down quicker than others. Trucking companies then replace only the worn brakes with new ones, resulting in a vehicle that has some new, high-performing brakes, and other older, worn ones. When the trucker hits the brakes in these vehicles, some wheels can come to a stop faster than others, affecting how the truck reacts. In some cases, this can make the truck veer to the side when the driver hits the brakes, sending the truck into a jackknife or into another lane on the highway, causing an accident.
The tires on a truck are another crucial piece of equipment that can fail, as well. Tire blowouts are sudden and catastrophic events that can make the driver lose control of his or her vehicle, sending it into other lanes or veer out of control on the highway, causing a serious truck accident. Unfortunately, despite these significant dangers, truckers and trucking companies often put off changing the tires on their vehicles for as long as they can, to avoid the high price of a new truck tire.
One of the most overlooked aspects of driving a truck is how the load is secured in the trailer or on the flatbed of the truck. If the load on the back of a flatbed truck is poorly tied down, it can fly off into trailing traffic if the truck hits a bump or a gust of wind comes. However, even poorly-distributed loads inside a trailer can make it more difficult to drive the truck. These can cause an accident if the driver has to make a sudden turn or stop and this maneuver causes the load to shift suddenly.
Load-securement failures happen surprisingly often. According to the FMCSA's numbers, about 7% of trucking accidents involved one of these kinds of equipment failures.
Underride Bar Failures
When you are driving behind a tractor trailer in D.C., you might notice a bar protruding from the bottom of the back of the trailer. This is the underride bar and is meant to prevent the hood of your car from going underneath the trailer in a rear-end crash. These kinds of accidents are severe and often fatal without the underride bar because the height of the trailer can lead to serious head injuries if you should come into contact with it.
While the underride bar is meant to prevent this happening, though, they have been known to fail. This kind of equipment failure can cause a fatal injury that cannot be undone.
Washington, D.C. Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Even though Washington, D.C. has far fewer miles of road than other states in the country, truck accidents still happen frequently. If you or someone you love was involved in one that was caused by a truck's equipment failure, you could be entitled to compensation. The personal injury lawyers at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact us online or call us at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.