Heavy dump trucks and 18-wheelers can weigh up to 20 times the weight of a car with passengers. Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising that the brake system of such massive trucks is crucial to the safety of road users.
Is there a problem with truck brake systems in Virginia?
In a detailed study on the causes of large truck accidents, it was observed that truck brake issues were involved in 29.4 percent of the crashes. So there clearly is a problem with truck brake systems.
Recent passenger car models have four wheels controlled by a simple electronic set-up that applies to each wheel the maximum deceleration on the roadway without skidding.
With an 18-wheeler, the problem is not so easily solved. Many large trucks, traveling huge distances on the interstate network year after year, have a perfectly balanced and performing braking system during their first months of operation only, after which everything goes downhill. Why is that?
- All the brakes, on every one of the 18 wheels, need to be balanced mechanically (matching components) and pneumatically (balancing applied force). This balance is only kept if all the brakes are regularly checked, parts are replaced, and the system is put back in balance.
- Tractors frequently pull different trailers. This obviously creates an imbalance in the system, because it is not certain that all the trailers are serviced the way the tractors are.
- Some motor carriers never find the time and the funds to keep trucks and trailers in the workshop to have the brakes inspected and serviced one by one.
- Drivers often fail to report brake failures, or simply avoid losing time having their trucks serviced. No wonder, since long haul drivers are usually paid by the mile.
In July 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued new braking standards for tractor-trailers, mandating that they must come to a complete stop in 250 feet when traveling at 60 mph. This is almost a 30 percent reduction from the old standard of 355 feet. The rule will be phased in over several years. What motorists should know is that motor carriers have to abide by rules, not just for the performance of brakes, but also for their inspection and maintenance.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Virginia truck accident, please contact our Warrenton or Culpeper office today. You can discuss your accident case with one of our skilled and dedicated attorneys to see how we can help you secure fair compensation.