Faulty truck brakes cause tractor-trailers to crash into passenger vehicles in places where reliable equipment would have saved lives. It’s a devastating safety lapse that has inspired a North American group of law enforcement agencies to focus attention on large truck crashes and their unsafe brake systems.
Truck accident lawyers Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman are praising the effort of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and the group’s sweeping, awareness-raising inspection effort on Brake Safety Day. This year’s annual event in September — spread across the United States and Canada — involved 7,700 roadside inspections.
Unsafe truck brakes were discovered so often that 14 percent of the big rigs inspected were placed out of service specifically for brake-related safety violations.
“It’s incredible that transport companies operate with so many unsafe trucks. It’s an indictment and a wake-up call at the same time.”Attorney Fred Pritzker
Attorney Eric Hageman said wrongful deaths involving large commercial trucks have climbed to a nine-year high. With so many large trucks operating with bad brakes, the increase in highway fatalities is not a surprise, he said. Not only did fatal truck accidents increase by more than 5 percent last year — mounting to 4,317 deaths — but fatalities happened at a faster rate than the prior year, Hageman said.
“We’re grateful for Brake Safety Day and the attention it brings to the nation’s epidemic of semi-truck accidents. A defective brake on a 40-ton truck is a deadly accident waiting to happen.’’Attorney Eric Hageman
Brake Safety Day
Truck-specific CVSA has nearly 4,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, including police officers, transportation officials, some fleet operators, brake suppliers and vendors. On Sept. 7 this year, the organization conducted 7,698 brake inspections on large trucks traveling in 31 U.S. states and nine Canadian provinces. More than 1,000 of those rigs were found to have brake-system violations unsuitable for safe travel. Normally speaking, out-of-adjustment brake and brake equipment violations make up half of all out-of-service violations for commercial motor vehicles. To start with, trucks and buses require much more distance to stop than passenger vehicles. Faulty brakes reduce stopping power and seriously increase the risk of a car rear-ended by a truck.
The inspections on Brake Safety Day applied to tractors and trailers and most rigs were equipped with antilock braking systems. Of 5,456 air-braked truck cabs with ABS, 11 percent had ABS violations. Of 3,749 trailers equipped with ABS, 14 percent had shortcomings, CVSA reported.
CVSA President Capt. Christopher Turner with the Kansas Highway Patrol said the organization’s goal for Brake Safety Day is to reduce the number of crashes caused by faulty braking systems. More than 3.4 million rigs have been inspected since the program’s inception in 1998.
Were You Rear-Ended by a Truck Because of Bad Brakes?
Legal help for truck accident victims can help put injured families on equal footing with powerful trucking companies and insurance conglomerates that tend to rush casualty claims and settlements. Truck accident lawyers at Pritzker-Hageman law firm slow the process down to fully gauge the losses suffered by clients. Being rear-ended by a truck often causes permanent deficits to a person’s health and livelihood.
“People need to hold truck drivers and their employers accountable when large trucks with bad brakes rear-end passenger cars, SUVs and pickups.’’Attorney Fred Pritzker
Wrongful death truck crashes disrupt families in equally permanent fashion, creating unspeakable pain when there is a loss of a loved one’s companionship. If the victim is a family breadwinner, a fatal rear-end truck accident can create multi-generational loss. Truck accident clients at Pritzker-Hageman, P.A., have recovered tens of millions of dollars in compensation for truck accident personal injuries and wrongful death. Independent investigations by our law firm have placed fault squarely on truck drivers when crashes resulted from negligence. Our attorneys have represented victims of rear-end truck crashes, truck side-swipe accidents and cars caught underneath trucks.
In large truck crashes, the overwhelming majority of harm lands on occupants of passenger vehicles. Upwards of 70 percent of deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. Large trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger vehicles. Doubling the danger Research sponsored by Highway Loss Data Institute shows that serious vehicle defects triple the risk of being involved in a crash. During the 1980s, the Institute studied large truck crashes in Washington and found that tractor-trailers with defective equipment were twice as likely to crash as trucks without defects Then again in 2010, a study by the North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center showed that trucks with out-of-service violations for any type of defect were more than 4 times as likely to be in a crash as trucks without such violations. Moreover, trucks cited for brake violations were 50 percent more likely to crash than comparison trucks,
Truck Lawyers Investigate
When a car is hit from behind by a big truck, resulting in injury or death, an independent investigation of the truck’s braking system is crucial for fairness to the victimized driver or passenger. For instance, certain trucks are required to maintain anti-lock braking systems (ABS) in accordance with federal regulations. Fully functional ABS enables trucks (and trailers) to stop in the shortest possible distance under many conditions while also boosting the truck driver’s control over steering when tires start to slip.
It’s illogical for trucking companies and independent truck drivers to run ABS-equipped tractors and trailers that aren’t fully functional, but Brake Safety Day annually reminds us that it happens time and again. It’s a chronic area of neglect that a good legal team will cover in its investigation of any hit-from-behind truck accident. Brake Safety Day is part of CVSA’s programming in partnership with the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. More than 3.4 million brakes have been inspected since the program’s inception in 1998.