Can That Truck Stop?

Can That Truck Stop?

Large trucks are subject to many regulations and inspection processes to ensure that they are safe and roadworthy. But if a truck’s braking systems do not work, all the other regulations and inspections do not mean much. If a truck can’t stop, devastation and destruction of human life often follow.

In a major study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it was determined that, when a large truck crash was caused by a mechanical failure, it was the brakes that were responsible 29.4 percent of the time, making it the most common cause. The statistic encompasses any brake-related issue, including brakes that are out of adjustment and actual brake failure. In all, approximately 41,000 truck crashes were associated with faulty braking systems. The FMCSA also discovered that nearly one-third of large trucks tagged with pre-crash safety violations had braking system problems.

Semis Need More Room

Tractor-trailers can’t stop as quickly as cars can, even though their braking systems are marvels of technology these days. At 65 mph, the average car needs at least 316 feet to stop—basically, the length of a football field. But a semi weighing 80,000 pounds needs at least 525 feet to stop, and that’s if the brakes are in good shape, with no flaws. If the brakes are worn or defective, the distance needed to stop the truck grows even longer.

Checking Brakes on the Fly

Disturbing crash statistics mean that impromptu brake checks for trucks have become common. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducts regular enforcement inspections of large commercial trucks in the United States and Canada. During April, 2018, CVSA performed 11,531 inspections and pulled 1,595 trucks off the road because of critical violations involving hydraulic brakes, air brakes, and anti-lock braking systems (ABS). The violation percentage for April, 2018, was nearly 14 percent. The May, 2017, figure was lower, at 12 percent.

Brake Safety Week

Brake Safety Week occurs in late Spetember, where roadside inspections of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and their braking systems will be conducted by the CVSA for Brake Safety Week. Any CMV showing critical brake violations will be taken off the road.

Trucks will be subject to what is known as the North American Standard Level I Inspection. The 37-step examination process includes:

  • Checking brake system components for missing or loose parts
  • Looking for fluid leaks in both hydraulic and air brakes
  • Checking brake rotors for defects
  • Checking brake linings, drums, pads, and rotors to verify the wear level
  • Checking that warning devices for braking systems work.

Any CMVs with out-of-adjustment or defective brakes will be immediately declared out of service.

The CVSA and other organizations are doing their best to keep unsafe large trucks off our roads through initiatives like Brake Safety Week and impromptu inspections. In a July 17, 2018, statement, CVSA President and Kansas Highway Patrol Capt. Christopher Turner commented, “Inspecting, identifying and removing commercial motor vehicles with brake violations from our roadways is critical to the safety of the traveling public. Brake systems that are improperly installed, neglected, or poorly maintained reduce braking efficiency and increase stopping distances of trucks and buses, posing a serious transportation safety risk.”

We believe justice matters.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, whether empty, full, or involving only the tractor portion of the truck, we suggest you talk with Indianapolis truck accident lawyers at McNeely Stephenson. Both Mike Stephenson, with his more than three decades of experience, and Brady Rife, with his diverse experience in personal injury litigation, strive always to meet the highest standards of client care.

Indiana truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the burdens of overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability. At McNeely Stephenson, we offer free consultations and would like to discuss how we can be of service to you. Please keep in mind that there is a time limit for filing your case, so it is wise not to delay. Call us today, or use our confidential online contact form.