Missouri Truck Accidents Caused by Defective Equipment


Trucking Accidents are Often Caused by Defective Equipment

Many truck accidents that cause serious injuries in Missouri and Illinois involve truck drivers operating their vehicles with defective equipment.  Problems with equipment often involve improper maintenance and defects in brakes, tires, steering systems, or other critical vehicle components.

Truck Accidents Caused by Defective Brakes

Brake failures play a significant role in trucking accidents in Missouri and other states. This is particularly disturbing when one considers how often properly-functioning brakes might prevent an accident.  For example, if a tractor-trailer has adequate brakes, the driver should be able to avoid rear-end accidents, or be more likely to avoid such accidents. These issues are well-known to trucking lawyers in Missouri and St. Louis. One only has to look at government studies to realize how often innocent individuals are injured by negligent truck drivers and trucking companies. In one such study,   the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Transportation Administration evaluated the causes of large truck crashes in the United States from 2003 to 2004. That study indicated that 23.1% of the studied accidents were rear-end accidents.  Click here for information on the Large Truck Crash Causation Study Analysis Series.

Trucking accident lawyers know that brakes in tractor-trailers are different than those systems found in passenger vehicles. While, the differences are many, a main difference is that many tractor trailers have air brake systems in which the various components work together to create and maintain a supply of compressed air that is used to transmit pressure from the drivers’ control to the service brake. The air brake systems can include the service brake system, the parking brake system and the emergency brake system. Other braking system components that can be important are steering axle brakes and retarder brakes (also known as “Jake Brakes”). 

Brake problems in trucking accidents range from brake failure to brakes being out of adjustment. A driver of a tractor trailer can do a number of things to prevent these brake problems. For example, a driver should adequately perform pretrip inspections under 49 CFR 392.7 and postrip inspections under 396.11 to verify the brake system will function properly. An adequate inspection will ensure the brake system is adjusted to have sufficient control and will help avoid preventable accident by making sure that air levels are correct so that the stopping distance is attainable. 

The inspections might include the following:

Inspecting the brake hoses and brake lines to make sure they are properly fitted, that there are no cracks, that there are no leaks, and that the hose connects to the brake chamber.

The inspection of the brake chamber should reveal no air audible air leaks and that it is securely mounted without dents or damages. 

The slack adjuster should be inspected and should sit at the proper angle with pins in place and the driver should not be able to pull it more than necessary.

The drum brake should not cracked or have signs of overheating

The service air line and the emergency line should be inspected to make sure the trailer brakes are adequate. 

The coupling devices should be inspected. The coupling assembly is important because it links the fifth wheel with the trailer king pin. This connection creates a hinge which can become stiff and difficult to control if it is not adequately lubricated.   

Truck Accidents Caused by Defective Tires

Our experience as personal injury attorneys includes litigating serious cases involving defective tires. Tires often fail at high speeds and cause vehicles, including tractors, to become extremely difficult to control. Improperly maintained tires often contribute to trucking accidents.  If a tire is improperly inflated, it can lead to accelerated tire wear which can create difficulty with braking, poor handling, and reduced vehicle stability. Additionally, if the tire is not properly maintained there can be an increased propensity for tire blowouts. 

A proper inspection of a tractor-trailer’s tires should include looking for proper air pressure, proper tread depth, cuts on the tire, tread separation, improperly contacting dual tires, mismatched tire sizes, combination of radial and bias ply tires, and cut or cracked valve stems. Some vehicles help truck drivers prevent tire-related accidents as their vehicles are equipment with commercial vehicle tire pressure monitoring and maintenance systems (TPMS).

Truck Accidents Caused by Defective Steering Systems

While not as common of a cause of accidents as defective brakes and tires, defective steering systems can play a role in causing trucking accidents in Missouri. Some accidents are a result of defective steering system components, such as defective ball sockets which can result in complete loss of steering. 

Similar to other defects, a driver who is operating a tractor trailer  can help prevent steering related accidents by properly inspect the steering mechanism and system. A thorough inspection could include checking the steering box for missing/loose bolts, cracks and nonfactory welds. A driver might also check for steering fluid leaks and torn or frayed hoses. When checking steering linkage, the driver should check the steering column, pitman arm, the drag link for cracks, bends, non-factory welds, missing castle nuts, cotter pins and for proper lubrication.   In order to make sure the tractor trailer responds to a driver, it is also prudent to evaluate the steering play (or freeplay). 

View Muchnick & Haber Tractor Trailer Accident Past Results.

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