The lack of proper mechanical training by trucking companies (carriers) causes accidents, many of which lead to serious injury or death. Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) regulations require that pre-trip inspections be made before truck drivers embark on a trip.
Mechanics are not required to perform these checks; rather, the driver is supposed to be trained to execute these inspections himself/herself. Because these inspections are laborious, many truckers and/or carriers don’t take the time to execute the full inspection before every trip.
According to the FMCSA, “each commercial motor vehicle must have brakes adequate to stop and hold the vehicle or combination of motor vehicles.” There are stopping distance requirements that brakes must comply with as well, which require the driver to estimate the distance needed to stop according to their load weight and speed. Different types of brakes such as hydraulic, air and vacuum breaks require certain pressures to function; the driver must be trained in these requirements so that when there is an error, they can spot it before an accident occurs.
These calculations are extremely advanced, so thorough training and experience are required. Without proper training and experience, accidents occur as a result of driver errors. Brakes are usually in the top four reasons for trucking accidents after speeding, distraction and driver fatigue.
If you’ve ever driven on a highway in the U.S., you’ve seen the remnants of blown out tires. These blowouts can cause wrecks by causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Because large trucks carry thousands of pounds of freight, drivers are required to check the following levels before every trip: the FMCSA requires drivers to evaluate tread, PSI, and weight capacity. The plethora of tires strewn along US highways is evidence of a lack of training in tire levels.
All lights and lamps must be completely unobstructed and should be able to be activated at all times. Drivers have to test and clean lights before taking to the road to ensure visibility. Broken or obstructed headlights, trailer lights or brake lights can be particularly dangerous at night when it’s dark. Many drivers are required to drive during darker hours, so one missed light can be fatal.
According to a 2012 DOT study, the most common vehicle-related factor in crashes was a shift in cargo. The FMCSA outlines how cargo is to be loaded, secured and weighed. A shift in cargo can cause a driver to lose control, a trailer to overturn, or brake failure. Open bed trailers are especially dangerous if items are not secured properly. Falling debris can damage surrounding vehicles and endanger others. Truckers and carriers are obviously not checking the loads properly if this is still the #1 cause of accidents.
Trucking companies are responsible for the inspections and training of drivers to perform these inspections before each transport. There are hundreds of other regulations related to large truck mechanics. So many, that some trucking companies choose to neglect some regulations in exchange for time, money or convenience.
If you have been involved in a trucking accident and you believe it was due to a mechanical or other neglectful situation, call our experienced trucking attorneys at Laird Hammons Laird.