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Houston Truck Accidents Caused By Poor Maintenance

Truck Maintenance

Many trucking companies overlook the importance of regular inspections and maintenance for their fleet of vehicles. Given the substantial costs associated with parts and labor, especially for large commercial trucks, some companies opt to postpone necessary repairs to save money.  Trucking companies and drivers may think that it is profitable to neglect proper maintenance.  However, this neglect can pose serious risks to both truck drivers and other motorists on the road.

Issues In Houston Truck Accidents Caused by Poor Maintenance

When a truck accident occurs, it’s common to initially scrutinize the truck driver for liability.  Commercial and 18-wheeler trucks, due to their size and power, pose significant risks to other vehicles, drivers, passengers, and pedestrians in the event of a collision. While driver error is often a factor, insufficient inspection and maintenance of the vehicle can also lead to accidents.

Mechanical Problems: A Significant Factor

According to FMCSA data, approximately 10% of 18-wheeler accidents stem from mechanical issues. Many of these incidents could be avoided through proper maintenance procedures. Federal regulations mandate trucking companies to regularly inspect and repair their trucks to mitigate crashes caused by mechanical failures. Failure to adhere to these regulations may render the trucking company liable for damages resulting from such negligence.

Importance of Routine Maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial for any vehicle operating on U.S. roads. However, for semi-trucks, it’s not just a matter of prudence but also a legal requirement under federal and Texas state laws. The complexity of commercial trucks, with their numerous mechanical components and technical intricacies, necessitates specialized attention. Both the driver and the owner-operator bear the responsibility of conducting thorough annual inspections and maintaining comprehensive maintenance records.

Legal Framework for Maintenance

Federal regulations overseen by the FMCSA play a pivotal role in governing maintenance practices for commercial trucks. Many of these regulations, tailored to address inspection and maintenance issues, have been adopted into Texas law as well. For instance, drivers of commercial trucks are obliged to perform pre-trip and post-trip inspections to identify potential mechanical issues.

Record-Keeping Requirements

The records maintained by trucking companies under federal law hold significant importance, particularly in the aftermath of accidents. These records include details such as vehicle identification, scheduled maintenance tasks, and records of inspections, repairs, and maintenance performed. Federal law stipulates that these records must be preserved for at least one year during the vehicle’s use by the company and six months after it leaves the company’s control.

Liability for Negligent Maintenance

A failure to fulfill maintenance obligations can result in severe consequences for trucking companies. If a mechanical issue, such as faulty brakes, contributes to an accident and the trucking company neglected to conduct necessary inspections, it may be held liable for resulting injuries and damages. Even former owners of commercial trucks may face legal liability for negligent maintenance if the vehicle is found to be non-compliant with federal regulations.

Common Maintenance Problems Identified by National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)

The NHTSA has identified several maintenance issues commonly observed in commercial trucks, including brake failure, trailer hitch malfunction, tire blowouts, suspension failure, steering column issues, faulty lighting, unsecured cargo, and parts detachment from trucks. These issues not only compromise the truck’s maneuverability and visibility but also increase the risk of accidents, especially at high speeds.

Tire Maintenance

One of the most prevalent issues in commercial truck maintenance is tire wear. The extensive mileage covered by these trucks often leads to rapid tire deterioration, resulting in frequent blowouts. These blowouts are frequently attributed to heavy loads that are unevenly distributed within the truck or tires with inadequate pressure. Therefore, it’s imperative to inspect tires before embarking on each trip to mitigate the risk of blowouts and ensure road safety.

Brake Inspection

Regular brake checks are crucial for commercial trucks. Any unusual noises emanating from the brakes should prompt immediate inspection, as worn brake pads can impede a truck’s ability to decelerate promptly during emergencies. Furthermore, malfunctioning brakes may unexpectedly lock up, potentially causing the truck to jackknife, endangering both the driver and nearby vehicles.

Proper Load Management

Improperly loaded trucks pose a significant hazard on the road. Exceeding weight limits can exert excessive pressure on the vehicle, leading to mechanical failures. Additionally, inadequately secured cargo can shift during transit, potentially falling onto the road and colliding with other vehicles, thereby necessitating meticulous load restraint practices.

Routine Fluid Checks

Similar to passenger vehicles, commercial trucks require regular fluid checks to maintain optimal performance and safety. Periodic changes of oil, steering fluid, brake fluid, and radiator fluid are essential to ensure the vehicle operates smoothly and efficiently.

How Can Molina Law Firm Help?

At the Molina Law Firm, we understand the far-reaching impact of big truck accidents and 18-wheeler accidents. We are committed to helping victims and their families seek justice and fair compensation for their losses. As part of our commitment to the Houston community, we have compiled essential information to help you understand the scope and impact of these accidents.  SEEK JUSTICE and call today, (281) 922-4300. !


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