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How Maintenance Affects Wreck Rates

Improper maintenance is a leading cause of semi-truck Wrecks in America. As operating costs rise, many companies and drivers neglect maintenance in order to cut costs. For example, the average cost of tires increased 18% from 2010 to 2011. This caused many companies to put off replacing them until they could find cheaper alternatives.

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Common Maintenance Problems Leading to Wrecks

Glazed Brakes - Glazing occurs when brakes are excessively used. This causes them to overheat. Overheating melts the resins and binders that hold the pad together, thus causing the brake pad to fall apart. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) studied 407 semi-truck Wrecks that occurred from April 2001 to December 2003. Released in 2006, the report found that 32.7% of semi-trucks involved in Wrecks had been cited for braking system violations. Interestingly, only 2.4% of roadside service calls are because of brake system failures.

Brake Drag -Emergency brake cables can freeze if a buildup of rust occurs within the protective sheathing. When this happens, the cables remain tight even if the emergency brake has been released. This can cause a vehicle to veer off course while driving, and it will provide no protection in the event a driver needs to stop suddenly.

Tire Blowouts -Semi-truck tires are typically include 3 or 4 steel belts and are designed to function for several hundred thousand miles before they need to be retreaded. Because of their cost and the time required for the retreading process, many drivers and companies push their tires to the limit which increases the likelihood of a blowout down the road. The LTCCS showed that 14.5% of vehicles involved in Wrecks had been cited with tire violations. Further, it's estimated that up to 51% of roadside service calls are to replace faulty tires.

Hydraulic/Airline System Failures - The hydraulics and air lines that control the brakes, hoist, and other systems are imperative to a vehicle's safety. Holes and blockages within the hydraulic lines reduce pressure and can take these systems offline. The LTCCS showed 9.6% semi-trucks involved in Wrecks had been previously cited for pressure hose deficiencies. Problems with air lines and hydraulic hoses account for 4.7% of roadside assistance calls.

Steering Mechanism Failures -The steering mechanism is crucial for the proper positioning of the vehicle as it travels down the road. Failures can be caused by loss of hydraulic pressure, loss of electrical power, or physical breakdown of components. According to the LTCCS, 14% of vehicles involved in Wrecks had been cited for steering system deficiencies that ultimately led to serious Wrecks.

Transmission Failure - Improper loading, overloading, and failure to maintain transmission fluid levels can cause the transmission to explode. This can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle with little to no warning.

The Cost is Considerable

The cost of semi-truck crashes adds up quickly. It's estimated that the cost of damages and fatalities is in excess of $87 billion per year. Of this, $16 billion is in property damage, $32 billion for injuries, and $39 for fatalities.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration compiled data in 2013 that showed how significant the cost of truck Wrecks has become. In 2012, the data showed that 18% of those killed in large vehicle crashes were the semi-truck drivers themselves. 73% were the drivers or occupants of other vehicles, and 9% were pedestrians or cyclists.

The same study showed a similar trend in regard to injuries received. Roughly 24% of injuries were sustained by semi-truck drivers, as opposed to 73% for those within passenger vehicles, and 3% for pedestrians and cyclists.

NTSB Seeks to Reduce Trucking Wrecks

In 2013, there were 338,000 truck involved Wrecks. These caused 73,000 injuries and approximately 4,000 fatalities. In an effort to reduce these rates, the NTSB is recommending expanded usage of recording and monitoring devices on semi-trucks.

The hope is that these will make it easier to monitor vehicles for maintenance lapses and to cite drivers and companies who violate established safety protocols. With over 10.2 million heavy trucks and 666,000 commercial buses, enhanced monitoring would have a genuinely positive impact. Better monitoring and recorindg would make it considerably easier for regulators and crash investigators to determine which drivers, and which companies are neglecting the maintenance that is putting others on the road at risk of serious injury or death.

Proper Maintenance Prevents Wrecks

Semi-truck Wreck attorneys know that proper maintenance is essential for a vehicle's safety. Improperly performed, or neglected maintenance puts semi-truck drivers, the drivers of passenger vehicles, and pedestrians at considerable risk for injury or death. Proper maintenance not only protects all motorists, it is essential for helping to reduce the hundreds of thousands of truck related Wrecks, the tens of thousands of injuries, and the thousands of fatalities that occur every year.

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