Commercial trucks and 18-wheelers pose a serious threat to other vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and others using New York roadways. Because a big rig can weigh as much as 40-ton when fully loaded, occupants of the other vehicle tend to suffer serious or even fatal injuries and property damage when they collide with large trucks. If a semi-truck’s brakes fail, the driver can lose control and collide with other vehicles. The truck’s load poses another threat because it can fall into the roadway or on other vehicles if it has not been properly secured. An experienced commercial truck accident attorney can answer your questions and explain your rights if you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor-trailer accident.
Given the massive weight of a tractor-trailer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has adopted regulations that impose a legal duty on commercial carriers to systematically inspect, maintain, and repair the brakes on large trucks. FMCSA Rule 396.3 spells out these requirements along with another big rig mandatory inspection and repair requirements. Although these rules have been enacted to improve safety on U.S. roadways, trucks that are taken out of service do not generate income for the driver or the trucking company. In other words, truckers and the companies that pay them to have a strong financial incentive to keep trucks on the road by turning a blind eye to safety issues.
Unlike typical passenger cars, commercial trucks are equipped with complex air brake systems that have several moving parts. This type of brake system relies on compressed air to slow or stop the vehicle. The truck’s air compressor forces air into reservoirs. Gears connect the compressor to the engine. The compressor may have its oil supply or utilize engine oil. When the system is well maintained, these brakes are highly reliable because they come equipped with a range of failsafe measures. Large trucks also come equipped with an emergency backup brake system, but these brakes typically require a longer stopping distance.
The sheer weight of commercial trucks means that they have a longer stopping distance than passenger vehicles, and this distance increases dramatically when the vehicle’s brakes need maintenance. The risk of driving a semi-truck with brakes in need of maintenance or repair also increases when a large truck is fully loaded, which can mean the truck weighs up to 80,000 pounds depending on the jurisdiction.
Since truck driver compensation typically will be closely linked to the number of trips a truck driver can complete, commercial drivers also have a reason to drive at high speeds. A truck’s stopping distance becomes an even bigger issue when the driver fails to travel at a safe speed given the weather, visibility, and traffic conditions.
Since commercial trucks cover many miles and their braking systems are complicated, the risk of brake failure can be significant unless the brakes are regularly inspected and serviced as required. Air brake systems can fail because of their age, a technical malfunction, or a lack of proper adjustments. Commercial truck brakes also can fail because they overheat after a driver rides the brakes while traveling downhill or makes a sudden stop at a high rate of speed. An excessive load can also lead to the air brakes overheating. Overheating brakes can malfunction or stop working entirely.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident caused by commercial truck brake failure, you might have the right to compensation for your injuries. An experienced trucking accident injury lawyer can review the facts and analyze your claim. Injury victims must meet certain deadlines when bringing such a claim, so prudence requires a prompt consultation.
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Did you or a loved one sustain an injury after a truck accident? Parker Waichman LLP helps those who have suffered injuries receive full monetary compensation. Trust your case with our truck accident injury lawsuit lawyers. For a free consultation, contact our law firm today by using our live chat or calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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