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Vehicle Defects Raise the Risk for Semi Truck Accidents

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that serious vehicle defects significantly raise the risk for semi truck crashes. According to the recent study, large trucks that had any type of out-of-service violation for defects were more than 4 times more likely to become involved in an accident than those without violations. In multi-vehicle crashes when the semi truck was determined to be the striking vehicle, those with out-of-service defects were 10 times more likely to be involved. Additionally, in almost three-quarters of semis in the study that were involved in crashes, serious vehicle defects were identified while performing after-crash inspections.

Common Truck Defects that Cause Crashes

Defects on such massive vehicles pose a serious threat to highway safety for truckers and other motorists alike. When a commercial motor vehicle inspector identifies a mechanical or loading problem that results in the semi truck becoming a hazard on the roadway, he or she can issue an out-of-service order. Common defects associated with large truck accidents include:

  • Faulty or Defective Brakes: According to the study, out-of-service brake violations tripled the risk for semi truck crashes, and large trucks that were cited for faulty brakes were more than 50 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than those without violations. Additionally, the Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that 29 percent of all semi truck accidents involved brakes that were out of adjustment, brake failure, or other brake issues.
  • Defective or Faulty Tires: Tires can be defective due to manufacturing issues, or they can become faulty due to improper inflation or excessive wear. When tires are worn, damaged or defective they can come apart, hurling debris in the line of traffic. If the damage or defect is bad enough, they can even blowout, causing the truck driver to lose control of the semi.
  • Lighting System Failures: When headlights, tail lights or brake lights are not working properly, the risk for a semi truck crash increases. Truck driver visibility is decreased with malfunctioning headlights, and faulty braking or tail lights make it difficult for other motorists to identify a semi's distance or pending actions.

Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for making sure their trucks are safe to operate. When equipment is not repaired or correctly maintained or recalled defective parts continue to be used and semi truck crashes occur, drivers and carriers can be held liable for damages.

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