Brake malfunction is among the scariest things that can happen while driving. This is particularly true when it involves a long-distance truck. When a massive 18-wheeler traveling at highway speeds experiences a malfunction with its brakes, the consequences can be deadly to drivers and passengers in nearby vehicles.
Brake Issues Are Common Problems Among Commercial Vehicles
Brake problems were among the most cited issues in roadside inspections in 2014, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Brake-related violations accounted for over a quarter of all out-of-service violations during the national Brake Safety Week. The majority of the violations were related to brake adjustment, brake components or overall brake issues. Inspectors cited a number of brake issues, including:
- Loose or missing parts
- Hydraulic fluid leaks
- Cracked or damaged brake pads
- Worn or damaged brake drums
- Faulty rotors
- Non-functioning anti-lock brake system indicator lights
Who Is to Blame When Brakes Fail?
Brake systems are designed to hold up to extreme conditions. However, there are instances in which either the manufacturer or the trucking company behaves in a way that can lead to the failure of the brakes.
The federal government has mandated stopping distance and braking force requirements for commercial vehicles based on size. Brake systems must conform to these standards or the manufacturer can be held responsible for producing a defective product.
Additionally, trucking companies and truck drivers are required to inspect and maintain the brakes on their vehicles. When a driver fails to perform a proper inspection and then make the appropriate repairs, they are negligent. There have also been instances in which drivers depower the front brakes to save wear and repair to the front brakes, diminishing the braking power of the vehicle.
Consequences of Brake Malfunction
Many vehicular accidents occur each year when brakes malfunction. A truck can log thousands of miles without incident, and then suddenly experience a catastrophic brake failure. Other vehicles may be unable to escape the path of the out-of-control truck. Death or serious injuries can occur as a result, including:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
Injuries and other damages can cost accident victims significant amounts of money and cause lasting injuries. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a truck accident that you have reason to suspect was caused by defective brakes, the legal team at Morris James LLP may be able to help. Fill out our contact form today to start a conversation with a member of our experienced team.