What Are Mechanical Failures in Trucks?
Mechanical failure in motor vehicles refers to the inability of one or some of their parts to perform their designated function. It can be caused by faulty manufacturing, unskilled installation, or lack of proper maintenance.
Truck accident statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) show that many truck accidents are caused by mechanical failures of crucial vehicle components such as tires, engine wheels, or brakes. This is not to say that mechanical failures do not cause accidents for smaller vehicles, but truck or semi-truck accidents are different from car accidents.
Truck accidents are more devastating due to their enormous sizes. A truck on a collision course hits the object of impact with a far greater force than a regular car ever could, leading to more severe injuries, destruction of property, and more fatalities. As such, mechanical failures in trucks are a huge concern to everyone involved in the trucking industry and other road users because of the potential hazards.
But accidents caused by mechanical failure can be avoided if the faulty vehicles are not driven in the first place. Hence it is important for trucking companies to ensure the safety of all their trucks by carrying out routine inspections and maintenance for each vehicle.
As a truck driver, you also need to check that each vehicle is safe to operate before you hit the road. Below is a list of the most common mechanical failures to guide you as you conduct these checks.
Common Mechanical Failures in Trucks
Brake problems are a significant cause of truck accidents in the US. As such, every moving truck must have a working brake system. The FMCSA has rules on the required standards for brake systems that trucking companies must follow. Understandably, you may be unfamiliar with all the rules. A truck accident lawyer can help if you’d like to learn more.
In the meantime, remember to test all the braking system components, including the handbrakes, brake pads, brake lines, antilock brake system, and brake fluid, and ensure they are fully functional before you begin your trip.
Truck Tire Blowouts
Truck tires, especially those of long-haul commercial trucks, are susceptible to frequent wear and tear as they travel thousands of miles yearly. As such, the truck tires can easily get punctured, break down, lose pressure rapidly, and blow out in transit. This could cause the driver to lose control of the truck, leading to an accident.
To avoid such issues, the FMCSA has strict requirements on the kinds of tires trucking companies should invest in. As the driver, you can also check for the following before your trip begins:
- Leaks or flat tires
- Tread or sidewall separation in any tire
- Cuts or openings that expose the inner tire material.
Defective or Missing Safety Devices
Trucks and vehicles generally have many devices attached to make them safe to drive and reduce risk to other road users. These safety parts include windshield wipers, headlights, tie-downs, turn signals, and horns. A malfunction of any of these parts is risky for the driver and other road users.
For example, damaged windshield wipers make it hard for drivers to see the road in bad weather. Broken tie-downs can allow cargo to get loose and fall from the truck damaging other vehicles and causing an accident. Without working turn signals and horns, it would be difficult for a truck driver to alert other road users of their intended direction.
Every truck driver needs to ensure that these things are in place before they start a journey to reduce the likelihood of an accident.
Faulty Steering Wheels
A faulty steering system makes it difficult to drive or maneuver a truck. Consequently, truck drivers may have difficulty responding to emergencies while driving, which may require them to swerve quickly.
You must ensure that the steering wheel of any truck you intend to drive is in good working condition to avoid risk to yourself and other road users.
With two-part vehicles such as semi-trucks, there is always the possibility that the coupling device connecting the truck and the trailer can become loose or detached. This coupling malfunction can lead to catastrophic commercial trucking highway accidents, especially when the truck moves at high speeds. This is why the FMCSA requires the use of solid safety devices to reduce the likelihood of a coupling malfunction.
Coupling malfunctions are mainly the responsibility of the trucking company. Still, you can check that there are no issues with the safety device before you start your trip and at intervals during the journey.
Preventing Truck Accidents Due to Mechanical Failures: FMCSA Regulations
Most common truck accident causes, including mechanical failures, are preventable. The key to preventing such accidents is detecting and fixing the issues before the vehicles are used. As such, the FMCSA has strict inspection rules for trucking companies and truck drivers to help identify them.
Trucking companies must routinely inspect all trucks, parts, and accessories and replace faulty parts. Only vehicles that have passed the inspection should be used for business.
Drivers are also required to report any defect in the truck or any part of it, especially when the following parts are involved:
- The braking system, including service brakes, trailer brake connections, or parking brakes
- The steering system
- Vehicle lights and reflectors
- Windshield wipers
- Rearview mirrors
- Coupling devices
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
Compliance with the FMCSA rules is mandatory, so you need to inspect vehicles before use and report any issues you observe while driving. If you fail to comply and proceed to drive a faulty vehicle, you and the trucking company could be held responsible if an accident occurs and other people get injured.
Do You Have Further Questions About Truck Accidents and Mechanical Failures? Contact Hurt Trucker Attorneys for Answers
At Hurt Trucker Attorneys, we understand the vital role of truck drivers who brave the lonely roads daily for the benefit of others. We aim to ensure that injured truck drivers are not left to suffer without getting the compensation they deserve.
If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by mechanical truck failure, you can rely on us for guidance and top-notch representation as you seek compensation from your employers.
Do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with us. Let our experienced truck accident attorney(s) review your case and help you get started.