Safety Tips from a Knowledgeable Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accidents occur on a regular basis on America’s streets and highways, often with disastrous consequences. When a truck accident happens, the initial suspicion usually falls on the driver. However, accidents are not only caused by driver errors, they are also caused by vehicle maintenance issues, which often makes determining the liable party a complicated process. Therefore, you should immediately contact an experienced truck accident attorney if you are involved in a truck accident.
Truck are not only bigger and heavier than other vehicles, they also have more wheels, more mechanical components, and more complex technical aspects. Due to these facts, they require specialized service and maintenance on a strictly regular basis. The maintenance of trucks is not just the responsibility of the truck driver, but also of the owner.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the major truck maintenance issues that can lead to dangerous situations are:
- Brake failure: Contrary to what many people believe, brakes do not fail suddenly by themselves. The culprit is almost always lack of proper maintenance. The brake system of a truck is made of many components, such as drums, calipers, and brake pads. In the lack of proper and regular maintenance, any of the components can malfunction or break down. Also, unmaintained brakes increase the stopping distance, which can cause accidents in wet and crowded roads. Brake failure is an extremely dangerous condition which almost always leads to catastrophic accidents.
- Poorly aligned wheels: Because trucks are heavy and they operate for long distances, their wheels tend to go out of alignment quickly. Poorly aligned wheels are a safety hazard. Because there is uneven pressure on the tires, the truck tends to pull itself to one side and as a result skid or lose balance on wet and slippery roads. Also, poorly aligned wheels tend to push against one another, which can quickly wear out the tires and may even cause single or multiple tire blow-outs.
- Suspension failure: Every motor vehicle has a suspension system, which is a collection of mechanical parts that include wheels, tires, steering system, spring, and shocks. The suspension holds the vehicle off the ground and allows the vehicle to turn. Like all machine parts, the suspension wears out over time. Lack of proper maintenance hastens suspension failure. A worn-out suspension can cause driving hazards such as imprecise steering, excessive bounce or dive, difficulty in controlling and turning the vehicle. A truck with a defective suspension is an accident waiting to happen as any truck accident attorney can tell you.
- Steering column failure: The steering column is the most critical part of a truck steering system. Located at the top of the steering system, it is attached directly to the steering wheel. Lack of proper and timely maintenance can cause steering column failure, which can result in steering system malfunctions, such as steering tilt malfunction and steering wheel unable to return to the middle automatically. Steering column failure can lead to accidents.
- Broken or non-functioning headlights and signal lights: The headlights, signal lights, and reflective surfaces of a vehicle are critical to maintaining road safety, especially at night and during times of low visibility. Because they are exposed to the elements, they tend to break or go out of order frequently. Driving a truck with broken, missing or non-functioning headlights and signal lights is an invitation to accidents. Therefore, these need to be checked and repaired or replaced at regular intervals.
- Trailer hitch failure: Trailer hitches are made of a number of components that include a coupler, ball, ball mount, receiver hitch, and safety chains. Being mechanical parts, they tend to wear out over time. Trailer hitch failure can result in the trailer uncoupling from the truck, which can have catastrophic consequences on a busy highway where vehicles are going at high speed.
Lack of proper maintenance is one of the major causes of truck accidents in the United States. If an accident is proved to have occurred due to maintenance issues, the owner of the truck is held liable for injuries and damages. If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident, contact a truck accident attorney to find out what damages you can claim.