Missouri residents may be alarmed to learn that a worryingly large number of the semi-tractor trailers on the nation’s roads likely have braking systems that are either not properly adjusted or defective. When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied a sample of the 120,000 serious truck accidents that occurred between April 2001 and December 2003, their researchers discovered that 29% of the commercial vehicles involved had some sort of braking system problem.
The agencies released their findings in a landmark 2007 report. After scrutinizing police reports and accident investigations, the researchers determined the critical reason for each crash. Braking system malfunctions were the critical factor most often assigned to the trucks involved. The 963 accidents studied by NHTSA and the FMCSA claimed 249 lives and left 1,654 road users seriously injured.
The second and third most common critical factors for trucks were excessive speed and unfamiliarity with road. Driving too fast for prevailing road conditions was determined to be the critical factor in 23% of the commercial vehicle accidents studied. FMCSA guidelines recommend that truck drivers reduce their speeds by 33% in wet conditions and by at least 50% on roads covered in snow. About 22% of the accidents were caused by truck drivers who made mistakes because they were unfamiliar with the road they were traveling on. The most common mistakes were missing a turn and turning too late.
Trucking companies are expected to ensure that their vehicles are properly maintained and safe, and they may be held financially responsible in court when this duty of care is not met. Experienced personal injury attorneys may gather evidence of negligence by having the trucks that injured their clients inspected. These inspections could uncover defective parts, shoddy repairs or signs of inadequate maintenance.