Just as your car requires regular maintenance to stay safely operational, the big rigs on Georgia’s roadways require regular maintenance and repair. What happens, though, if trucking companies do not properly maintain their fleet?
Who is responsible for maintenance of large commercial vehicles?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires companies to inspect, maintain and repair the vehicles that their company uses. However, trucking companies may overlook necessary maintenance to keep more trucks on the road or to avoid the cost of a rigorous maintenance schedule.
How can poor semi-truck maintenance contribute to a wreck?
The FMCSA notes that a wide variety of systems need regular inspection and maintenance in order to protect the safety of truck drivers and the people they share the road with. Some of the many parts that companies should maintain include:
- Windshield wipers—While the windshield wipers may seem like a relatively minor system, worn windshield wipers can severely limit visibility in rainy or snowy conditions.
- Tires—Worn tires can easily fail, causing tread separation. Worn tires can also make it difficult to stop or steer effectively, especially in inclement weather.
- Brakes—Both the service brakes and parking brakes of vehicles must meet standards in order to ensure that the vehicle can stop effectively.
- Steering mechanisms—If the steering on a large commercial vehicle is not maintained, the vehicle can be difficult to control in an emergency.
- Coupling devices—If the coupling devices on a truck become worn, trailers can easily become unbalanced or entirely unattached while the truck drives.
- Lights and mirrors—Drivers rely on their lights and mirrors to ensure that they can see smaller vehicles on the road. Without proper maintenance, they may be unable to see and react to hazards.
- Fuel systems—Faulty or worn fuel systems can become a fire hazard.
The law may require companies to maintain vehicles, but it is clear that many trucks still on the road lack the upkeep necessary to keep them safe. For example, inspections performed by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) found that more than 13% of trucks inspected violated safety standards for brake systems, issues that may have been prevented by more proactive maintenance practices.
If a trucking wreck caused by poor maintenance harmed you or your loved one, it is possible to hold trucking companies responsible for the part that poor maintenance had in their suffering.