Proper Inspections Can Prevent Truck Accidents
About half a million truck crashes occur in the United States each year. These crashes result in thousands of fatalities, hundreds of thousands of mild to severe injuries requiring medical attention, and billions of dollars in damages. As any 18 wheeler accident lawyer will tell you, many of these accidents are caused by vehicle malfunction or improper maintenance, which can be detected and prevented by carrying out pre-trip inspections.
The purpose of a pre-trip inspection is to ensure that everything is functioning as it should and that the truck is completely safe to drive. A pre-trip inspection is important for the following reasons:
- Lights that do not work: Lights are an important part of a truck’s safety features. The headlights illuminate the road at night and bad weather conditions so that you can see clearly. The brake lights inform the drivers of the vehicles behind you that you are braking. A pre-trip inspection helps find lights that are not working and have them replaced before the trip.
- Defective brakes: Brake failure is one of the main causes of truck accidents. Even a slight brake malfunction can jeopardize your safety as well as the safety of other people on the road. A truck’s brakes are subjected to a great amount of strain and wear and tear on a daily basis. Therefore, it is important to make sure that they are in top working condition before starting the trip.
- Defective coupling: The consequences of a trailer breaking free from the tractor can be catastrophic. Although rare, it has happened in the past, resulting in the loss of several lives. Therefore, every tractor-trailer driver must make sure that the coupling system is in perfect order before taking his truck out on the road.
- Broken or unhinged doors and latches: Doors that do not shut properly can put the safety of everyone inside the truck at risk. There have been instances of people falling out of trucks and getting injured or killed. Also, things falling out of a truck can cause extensive damages and injuries to other vehicles and their occupants. Not only that, the truck driver will be held responsible for the lost load once you reach the delivery point.
- Failed steering: If the steering fails, the driver will have no way to control the truck. What can possibly be more dangerous than an out-of-control truck on a busy highway? In order to prevent the worst from happening, a pre-trip inspection is absolutely necessary.
- Improperly inflated tires: Underinflated tires are one of leading causes of tire blowouts on the highways. When a tire is underinflated, too much of its surface touches the road, which increases friction. This can cause the tire to overheat and experience tread separation or even a highly dangerous blowout. Overinflating the tires is also dangerous as it causes uneven wear on the tread and possibly blowout if the tire becomes too hot. Broken and separated tire parts can act like projectiles and cause extensive damages to other vehicles on the road.
- Fluid levels: Maintaining proper fluid levels is important for the smooth operation of a tractor trailer. Before taking the truck out on the road, every driver should check the oil, radiator and brake fluids to ensure that they are in adequate quantities.
It is the responsibility of every truck driver (and trucking company) to ensure that no one will be injured or killed because of their negligence. If you are injured in a truck accident, contact an 18 wheeler accident lawyer to get started on the claims process and the road to recovery.