The Role of Inadequate Maintenance in Tractor-Trailer Accidents


May 19, 2011

Regular inspections and maintenance are the responsibility of every trucking company that owns trucks and every driver that drives the commercial trucks.

While most truck drivers are well-trained and conscientious, when companies or their drivers fail to live up to this responsibility due to lack of time, laziness or just plain greed, motorists on our nation's roadways can be killed.

More than 5,000 Americans are killed each year in collisions with tractor-trailers or large vehicles like them. Although strictly regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the industry still needs improvement in the area of truck maintenance.

There are different reasons why accidents with tractor-trailers occur, but lack of maintenance is one of the reasons at the top of the list. The FMCSA did a study with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and looked at a sample of crashes that were both fatal and caused injury. The crash sites each involved at least one large truck and at least one fatality or injury and they were spread out over 17 states. After studying 967 crashes, which resulted in 251 fatalities and 1,408 injuries, it was found that 30 percent of the time brake problems in the trucks accounted for the crash. This was in comparison to only 5 percent for the passenger vehicles.

The other reasons for the crashes included a variety of causes including the following:

  • Roadway problems: 16 percent
  • Adverse weather conditions: 13 percent
  • Interruption in traffic flow: 25 percent

We rely on our trucking industry to transport goods across Georgia and the U.S. The trucking industry has a great deal of responsibility in terms of safety every time a truck is sent out onto the roadway because that truck can be a lethal machine. The lives and safety of the motorists with whom tractor-trailers share the roadways depends on the trucking industry taking adequate care to properly maintain and repair their tractor-trailers.

Routine truck maintenance is mandated for trucking companies by federal regulations. Equipment that can cause accidents when not maintained properly may include the following:

  • Defective brakes
  • Defective tires (can cause tire blowouts)
  • Defective steering
  • Defective under-ride protection
  • Unsafe trailer hitches or coupling devices

If you are injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer truck, you may be able to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the manufacturer of the truck, the trucking company, and the truck driver. An experienced truck accident attorney can conduct a thorough examination of the case to determine who is at fault and whether inadequate tractor-trailer maintenance contributed to your injuries.

A truck's maintenance checklist is extensive and includes:

  • Checking tires for wear and tear, replacing when needed.
  • Inspecting and repairing brakes.
  • Proper lubrication (greasing) of parts.
  • Steering and suspension are working properly.
  • Hydraulic fluids and oil levels are adequate.
  • Ensuring air pressure is adequate.
  • Making sure loads are strapped and secure.

All of this takes time and money, and unfortunately, there are some companies out there that would rather cut corners than pay for proper maintenance on their vehicles.

Federal regulations mandate that Georgia trucking companies properly maintain their vehicles. These regulations state:

  • Georgia truck drivers must "systematically inspect, repair, and maintain" all motor vehicles under their control.
  • All truck parts and accessories must be maintained in a "safe and proper operating condition at all times."
  • Maintenance records must be retained for at least one year as long as the vehicle remains under the Georgia truck company's control or six months after the vehicle is sold or leaves its control.

With over 27 years of experience, our Atlanta and Georgia truck accident attorneys are experienced in handling all types of truck accident cases. The Atlanta tractor-trailer accident attorneys of Montlick and Associates is available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Truck Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.