No vehicle with repair problems should be driven on the road. This is especially true for big-rig trucks that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when loaded. However, truckers and trucking companies continue to allow dangerous trucks to be driven on our Augusta-area highways in an effort to save money on maintenance and to not have trucks out of service while being repaired. Sadly, innocent motorists are injured or die when these maintenance issues cause a trucker to lose control of his truck and crash into other vehicles.
FMCSA Rules Mandate Regular Maintenance of Trucks
The dangers of poorly maintained and unrepaired trucks being driven is so great that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted detailed regulations requiring truckers and trucking companies to inspect, maintain, and repair problems before a truck is taken on a trip. All trucking companies, truck drivers, and employees involved in the inspection and maintenance of trucks are required to understand these rules and comply with them. Truckers and trucking companies must do the following:
- Systematically inspect, maintain, and repair trucks and their components.
- Ensure that truck parts and accessories are safe and in proper working order at all times.
- Refrain from operating a truck in a condition that is likely to result in an accident or a truck breakdown.
- Inspect the truck and be satisfied that it is in safe working condition before taking it out on a trip. He must also review the inspection report of the last driver and, if repair or maintenance problems were noted on the report, confirm that the repairs were made.
- Require drivers to complete an inspection and report at the end of each day’s work. The report must detail the condition of many important truck parts and accessories, including its brakes, parking brake, steering component, lights and reflective lighting, tires, mirrors, coupling devices, wheels, and emergency equipment.
- Mark any truck with a mechanical or loading problem that would likely cause an accident or breakdown with an “out-of-service” sticker. The sticker cannot be removed and the truck cannot be driven until the problems are rectified.
- Perform periodic inspections of trucks. A truck must be inspected at least annually, and a detailed report must be completed certifying that it passed the inspection.
- Maintain its inspection records for one year or for six months after the truck leaves the company’s control.
Common Truck Maintenance Problems That Cause Crashes
Unfortunately, some trucking companies and truckers do not follow these important FMCSA rules. Even worse, they allow trucks on the roads with repair problems—jeopardizing innocent peoples’ lives. Common maintenance issues that can cause deadly crashes include:
- Inspections. When truck drivers do not perform the pre-inspection or end-of-the day inspections of trucks, they do not even know about potential repair problems that could result in them causing a crash.
- Lights. When truck lights or reflectors are not maintained, truckers are unable to see other vehicles at night—or be seen by unsuspecting drivers—with deadly results.
- Brakes. Truck brakes are complex and expensive. When they are not maintained or inspected, they could fail at a vital time on the road. Even worse, some trucking companies actually tamper with the brakes and depower the front brakes in an effort to reduce the brakes’ wear and tear and repair costs. Sadly, this makes it even more likely that a trucker will cause an accident when he is unable to slow down or stop.
- Tires. When tires are not regularly replaced and maintained, a dangerous tire blow out could result or the trucker could find it difficult to stop or maintain traction with the road.
- Engine components. The truck’s engine and its components must be inspected and repaired before a truck is allowed on the road. Steering problems, fuel leaks, and suspension problems are a few of the conditions that could result in an accident.
- Trailers. The trailers connected to trucks utilize engineering and safety systems designed to help prevent a crash. When these systems are not maintained, they may not work properly and the trailer could disconnect from the truck—especially dangerous on highways.
Retain an Attorney Quickly Before Important Records Are Destroyed
Truck inspection records—or the lack of them—could be vital to proving that truck maintenance problems caused your crash. An expert inspection of the truck before it is repaired could also be crucial. That is why you need to hire an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident before this evidence is destroyed. Call Chris Hudson at 706-863-6600 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your legal options.