Improper Maintenance

Maintaining a large truck is expensive. The cost of maintenance includes many different factors:

  • High-grade parts
  • Labor for maintenance
  • Time truck is off the road

For major trucking companies, all three of these components of the cost can add up to millions of dollars a year, making a high incentive for trucking companies to cut costs in these areas whenever possible. In particular, trucking companies are more likely to honor their delivery schedules than their maintenance schedules. Whenever a decision has to be made about whether a truck should be maintained, the company brings its complex accounting minds to make the decision. Obviously, the more maintenance that is done on a truck, the more it costs, and the less maintenance that is done the more likely it is that the truck will have an accident as a result of equipment failure. At some point, the trucking company makes a decision about how much maintenance to do, based on their costs and yours as a result of any tractor trailer accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has identified a number of key components that must be maintained to keep a heavy truck safe on the road, including:

  • Brakes
  • Coupling from cab to trailer(s)
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Lighting & reflectors
  • Suspension
  • Frame
  • Tires, wheels, & rims
  • Windshield & wipers

The practice of Overloading Trucks makes trucks even more difficult to maintain as the heavier loads put more stress on every component in the truck. Ideally, inspections would prevent improperly maintained trucks from being on the road. However, the regulations state that a vehicle can fail annual inspections without being removed from service. For example, a vehicle will fail its annual inspection if it has a crack in any part of its windshield, although it will only be taken out of service if the crack is in the area swept by the driver's side windshield wiper. Therefore, a vehicle with a dangerously obscuring crack in the windshield is allowed back on the road, so long as that crack is not directly in front of the driver. Thus, there is often little incentive to fix minor, but potentially dangerous, malfunctions or problems rather than simply putting it back on the road and hoping for the best.

The Cost to You
Pennsylvania is the crossroads for two major shipping routes: I-80 and I-81. Over 80 percent of all freight in the state ships by truck alone. I-80 is the most important transcontinental east-west shipping route, passing by Williamsport, Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Stroudsburg, and I-81 carries freight from the major commercial border crossings in New York to markets south, passing nearby Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre, Frackville, and Scranton. When a truck is improperly maintained, it is more likely to get in an accident because

  • Brakes may fail to stop vehicle
  • Trailer can break loose or jackknife
  • Exhaust fumes can enter cab, affecting driver
  • Fuel system can leak
  • Lights & reflectors fail, preventing vehicle from showing up or making it hard for driver to see
  • Tires may blowout
  • Driver may be unable to see

In any of these cases, the trucking company's savings become your cost, not only in terms of damage to your car, but also in severe injuries to your person, or even the death of a loved one. Fatigued drivers make this condition worse, as they are less likely to notice warning signs of impending system failure and respond properly when failure does occur.

Do not let the trucking company make their profits at great personal price to you. The team at Michael J. O'Connor & Associates is ready to begin tackling your trailer tractor accident problem today. Email us or call our toll free number at 1.800.518.4LAW for a free initial consultation and case review.