What Types of Truck Accidents are Caused by Brake Issues?August 17, 2020
There is a reason why truck drivers who operate large commercial trucks must obtain a commercial driver’s license. These massive vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and their size and length make them much more challenging to navigate. Owing to their size and weight, large trucks require more road space to slow down or come to a complete stop. Unfortunately, there are times when a truck driver either fails to use proper braking techniques or has not taken the necessary steps to ensure that the truck’s brakes have been properly maintained. This can result in devastating truck accidents that involve catastrophic property damage and severe injuries. In most cases, it is the occupants of the passenger vehicles involved who suffer the most severe injuries. When this happens, victims need a skilled and experienced truck accident lawyer who will protect their rights and secure the financial compensation they deserve, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Learning proper braking techniques is an important part of a truck driver’s job because it can prevent wear and tear of the brakes and avoid serious truck accidents. The following are braking techniques that every truck driver should implement:
- Press down on the brakes for two minutes to ensure that the braking system’s air pressure is adequate.
- Check the gauge that indicates whether the air system is functioning properly.
- When the parking brake is engaged, make sure that the truck’s transmission is in neutral.
- When the anti-lock brake system is engaged, apply steady pressure to the brakes, particularly during icy conditions.
- Adjust traction control when driving in inclement weather such as ice, snow, and freezing rain.
Common Braking Mistakes that Lead to Truck Accidents
Commercial truck drivers are trained to understand how and when to pump the brakes, adjust the driving speed, and gauge how much road space is needed to come to a complete stop. The following are examples of common mistakes that lead to serious truck accidents:
- Hitting the brakes too hard, or braking in an improper way when driving on wet, slippery roads, or when hydroplaning
- Failing to reduce vehicle speed or downshift as necessary
- Failing to brake before gaining too much speed, which can cause a dangerous runaway truck accident
- Applying the brakes too hard or too suddenly, which can cause a jackknife or rollover accident
- Hitting the brakes too hard for certain road conditions, which can cause cargo to shift or spill out onto the road
Truck drivers should also understand the following braking techniques when driving down a steep incline:
- Choose the appropriate gear for traveling down a slope
- Accelerate gradually to a maximum safe speed
- When traveling down a hill, apply the brakes to reduce the speed by five miles per hour, continuing this process until the truck reaches the bottom of the hill
- Apply the brakes intermittently, which distributes energy between the brakes
What Types of Truck Accidents Occur from Improper Braking?
Even with the advancements in vehicle technology, truck accidents continue to be an unfortunate reality in this country. Although there may be fewer cars on the roads because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are significantly more commercial trucks on local roads and interstate highways as a result of the increase in online shopping. Commercial truck drivers have a responsibility to maintain a safe driving speed, pay attention to the other vehicles in the vicinity, and ensure that their truck has been properly maintained. Slamming on the brakes, failing to maintain the vehicle’s brakes, or making the appropriate repairs can cause devastating truck accidents, including the following:
- Rear-end accidents: If a truck’s brakes are not functioning properly, the truck driver may not be able to slow down in time to avoid crashing into the vehicle in front. Rear-end accidents can also occur if the truck driver is not paying attention or is tailgating another vehicle. If the passenger vehicle slows down suddenly, the truck driver may cause a rear-end accident because he or she could not slow-down in time. When a passenger vehicle is rear-ended by a large commercial truck, the damage to the vehicle is often extensive, and the injuries to the passenger vehicle occupants can be quite severe.
- Jackknife accidents: A jackknife accident occurs when a truck driver hits the brakes, causing the trailer to lose traction and slide to one side of the truck. When the truck driver applies the brakes heavily, particularly if rain, snow, or ice causes wet road conditions, the trailer can skid and eventually fall over on its side. These accidents often cause multi-vehicle pileups that result in life-threatening injuries and fatalities. Motorists should always use extra caution when driving in the vicinity of a large truck, particularly during inclement weather.
- Cargo accidents: When cargo that is not properly loaded or secured comes loose, it can make it very difficult for the truck driver to maintain control of the truck, especially if the cargo is very heavy. Two things can go wrong when cargo becomes loose. First, the shift in cargo weight can cause the truck driver to slam on the brakes in an effort to maintain control of the truck. This can cause a passenger vehicle to slide under the back of a truck, resulting in severe injuries or fatalities. Second, if the truck driver hits the brakes suddenly, it can cause the cargo to break loose and spill out onto the road. The cargo can hit other motorists or cause them to swerve into other lanes to avoid the falling cargo.
- Head-on collisions: These are some of the most devastating traffic accidents, and when a large commercial truck is involved, property damage and injuries are much more severe. If a truck driver is drowsy, distracted, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a driver’s reaction times are likely to be delayed. A head-on collision can occur if the truck driver brakes too hard, causing him or her to swerve into oncoming traffic.
Who is Liable for a Truck Accident Caused by Brake Failure?
When a truck accident is caused by brake failure, there are several parties that may be held liable for a truck accident, including the following:
- Truck driver: Commercial truck drivers must make sure that their vehicle’s brakes are checked and maintained on a regular basis. If the truck driver fails to do so, he or she could be held liable for an accident that is caused by brake failure. In some cases, a truck driver may intentionally limit the power of the braking system. For example, some drivers will unhook the cab’s braking system to only use the trailer’s brakes. However, this puts increased stress on the rest of the vehicle. Other times, the driver may not understand the limitations of the truck’s brakes under certain conditions. This is another instance where the truck driver would be held liable for an accident.
- Truck company: If a truck accident was caused by brake failure, and an investigation reveals that the truck company failed to make expensive repairs in an effort to save money, the company may be liable for property damage and injuries that the accident caused.
- Maintenance company: If the maintenance company responsible for inspecting and maintaining the truck does a poor job or fails to identify a serious brake issue, the company would be liable for an accident if it was caused by brake failure. Truck drivers are required to maintain inspection and maintenance logs. If forensic investigators find discrepancies with the logs, the maintenance company may be held liable.
- Loading company: Improper or uneven loading can cause the truck driver to brake suddenly or ride the brakes. This can cause the brakes to overheat. The loading company may be held liable for cargo that was not properly secured.
- Brake manufacturer: If a large truck has defective brakes resulting from a defective design or a mistake in the manufacturing process, the brake manufacturer may be held responsible.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Justice for Victims of Truck Accidents Caused by Brake Issues
If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a truck accident that was caused by brake failure or some other type of brake-related issue, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Many of these accidents are preventable if the necessary steps are taken to ensure that the truck’s brakes are maintained. Our dedicated legal team will walk you through the claims process and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.