Accidents Due to Negligent or Poor Maintenance of Trucks

Large truck drivers must follow the federal and state laws that dictate how they should operate their trucks in a safe manner, sharing the road with everyone. Because a large truck, such as a big rig, tractor trailer, semi or a 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, a passenger car colliding with it is likely to be damaged extensively.

There are many causes of a truck-car collision. One of the most common causes is a poorly maintained truck or a truck that was not properly or timely inspected.

New Jersey truck accident attorney Jeffrey S. Hark understands the dangers posed by vehicles that are poorly maintained. Some examples of poor maintenance include:

Trailers that improperly hooked up or maintained and break loose

  • Worn or bald tires
  • Improperly maintained or deficient brakes
  • Lack of reflectors or reflective tape
  • Loose or missing mudflaps
  • Broken headlights
  • Broken or faulty brake lights
  • Broken doors
  • Defective or inefficient tiedowns

Truck maintenance is extremely important due to the extensive use of these vehicles. Commercial trucks, unlike cars that are driven to work or school, are driven hundreds of miles a day and carry much more weight than a regular vehicle. For example, the average truck driving team drives anywhere from 3,600 to 5,000 miles per week.

The Federal Motor Carrier Administration outlines the maintenance standards applied to commercial vehicles in 49 C.F.R. § 396. The law applies to all motor carriers including drivers, agents, representatives, and employees who are directly concerned with the maintenance or inspection of vehicles. One thing every trucking company must do is thoroughly maintain, inspect, and keep all of the vehicles under their control in good repair. Carriers must make sure that all of their vehicles are properly lubricated and free of oil and grease leaks. Further, at all times, parts and accessories of the trucks must be in safe and proper operating conditions. This includes the frame, and frame assemblies, wheels, axels, suspension and steering systems, and many other things.

Commercial motor carriers are also required to maintain records for every vehicle they control for thirty or more consecutive days. These records must include identification of the vehicle (year, make, serial number, etc.), the owner of the vehicle, and the dates of past and upcoming inspections, repairs and maintenance. The records must be kept where the vehicle is stored or maintained for a year, and they must be kept for an additional six months after the vehicle is no longer in the carrier’s control.

In addition, trucking companies must refrain from operating vehicles in a condition that is likely to cause an accident or breakdown. The only exception to this is when the unsafe condition is discovered on the highway. In that case, the vehicle can be driven to the nearest location where repairs can be made safely if continued driving is less hazardous to the public than leaving the vehicle on the highway.

Driver inspection reports are also strictly regulated. Written and signed reports must be prepared by the carrier’s drivers at the end of each work day for each vehicle that was operated. As a minimum the report must contain information on the service brakes, parking brake, steering, lights and reflectors, tires, horn, windshield wipers, rearview mirrors, coupling devices, wheels and rims, and emergency equipment. The report has to identify the vehicle, and state any defects discovered by or reported to the driver.

These regulations reflect only a portion of Federal laws dedicated to the proper maintenance of commercial transport vehicles or trucks. These standards are specific and are meant to keep the roads safe from poorly maintained trucks. New Jersey truck accident attorney Jeffrey S. Hark understands the importance of the standards cited above. They have been put in place for the safety of us all and therefore they should always be followed.

At Hark & Hark, we are available to help you receive compensation for your losses arising out of a truck accident. Call us now for your free consultation.