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3 Reasons Why Trucking Operators Must Maintain Their Fleet

3 Reasons Why Trucking Operators Must Maintain Their Fleet

Tractor-trailers are vital to our way of life, transporting goods and materials essential to the businesses we patronize, homes we live in, and products we purchase. Though commercial trucking is a critical industry, it poses considerable public safety risks.

Large commercial trucks can pose a number of hazards to innocent people – from pedestrians and cyclists to occupants of standard passenger vehicles which stand no match for tractor-trailers that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Statistics show truck accidents claim thousands of lives each year, and increase the potential for serious and catastrophic injuries.

Managing Risks: Duty of Care, Regulatory Compliance

Because risks inherent to commercial trucking are well-known, trucking companies have legal obligations to take steps which ensure the public’s safety. They must also comply with trucking regulations – from those governing the amount of time truckers can spend behind the wheel to rules on drug and alcohol testing, cargo securement, weight restrictions, and more.

Among the many trucking regulations in place, some of the most important pertain to vehicle maintenance. Per a trucking operator’s duty of care, and by way of state and federal regulations, trucking companies should adequately and properly maintain their vehicles. These companies know full well that when they don’t, they increase risks for preventable accidents, injuries, and deaths.

Why Trucking Companies Need to Perform Vehicle Maintenance

Any motor vehicle in poor condition poses a hazard to those around it, but a negligently maintained commercial tractor-trailer is a truly critical public safety danger. Here are just a few reasons why:

1. Tire Blowouts

Truck tire blowouts can make for devastating motor vehicle accidents. Though some cases of tire failure may result from defective products – for which manufacturers can be held liable under product liability laws – many arise from degradation, disrepair, and a general lack of proper vehicle maintenance.

Trucking operators may fail to maintain tires by:

  • Neglecting routine and periodic vehicle inspections and addressing problematic tires.
  • Failing to perform pre-trip and intra-trip inspections and identify clear and visible tire issues, including low pressure, flats, and misalignment.
  • Failing to replace or repair worn or balding tires as needed.
  • Re-treading tires improperly or using re-treated tires on front-wheel axles in violation of federal trucking laws.
  • Failing to use the wrong tires for the current weather or roadway conditions, especially in winter months when roadways are made more dangerous by snow, rain, or ice.

As some of the most essential parts of a vehicle, tires are critical to safe operation. When trucking companies fail to adequately maintain them, blowouts can result in major catastrophes, including jackknifing, rollovers, lane departures, and other incidents which cause significant collisions or multi-vehicle accidents.

2. More Severe Accidents

Trucking regulations exist to mitigate the already massive risks large commercial trucks pose to the public. By failing to adequately maintain a fleet, trucking companies fail to manage those risks, and may increase them substantially.

In addition to increasing risks of accidents, poorly maintained trucks can also increase the severity of accidents, and subsequently the severity of injuries victims suffer. This can result from issues such as:

  • “Soft” brakes which increase a truck’s stopping time, protract stopping distance, and increase risks of collisions in crash-critical situations, rear-end accidents, and pile-ups.
  • Brake failure, which can result in higher-speed collisions caused by runaway trucks on steep grades, busy sections of roads, and in intersections. Brakes may fail for a number of reasons, including leaks, worn brake pads or missing braking system components, and the use of incompatible parts.
  • Tire defects and blowouts, which can contribute to collisions at high-speeds.
  • Compromised vehicle stability and other trailer-related hazards which can result in swerving, jackknifing, fallen cargo, rollovers, and trailer disconnections that increase risks of more severe and larger scale wrecks.
  • Cracked windshields, broken headlights, and faulty or poorly maintained windshield wipers, which can reduce driver visibility and reaction time.
  • Power steering failures which prevent drivers from avoiding collisions or making collision-critical maneuvers to mitigate accident severity.

3. Cargo Transportation

Commercial trucks function to transport cargo, which is why trucking regulations proscribe a number of rules concerning proper cargo securement. In addition to these regulations, proper maintenance of vehicle components critical to cargo loading and securement is also vital to reducing accident risks.

Improperly maintained trucks may pose cargo-related risks such as:

  • Fallen cargo and roadway debris caused by worn or broken securement components.
  • Trailer articulation or trailer hitch failures and trailer detachment.
  • Shifting cargo, which can compromise vehicle balance and stability.
  • Spills of hazardous or flammable materials, fires, and toxic exposure.

Injured in a Tractor-Trailer Wreck? Our Omaha Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help.

Trucking regulations exist for a reason, and civil lawsuits provide opportunities to hold trucking companies accountable when they don’t comply with the law, fail to uphold the duty of care they owe the public, or take shortcuts which ultimately endanger people around them. If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking crash in Nebraska or the surrounding Midwest region, Domina Law Group is available to help you in the fight for justice and compensation.

Domina Law Group has won over $2 billion in verdicts & settlements for our clients, and has helped victims and families prevail in a range of complex personal injury and wrongful death cases involving commercial trucks, powerful corporations, and insurance companies. Call (888) 387-4134 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.

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