Truck drivers frequently transport goods and raw materials throughout Denver, Greenwood Village and Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Trucks are the primary transportation source providing products to communities throughout the United States. A truck accident lawyer knows that these trucks are also the cause of many road accidents that lead to death or serious injury.
There have been around 14,000 deaths in the United States since 2009 that occurred as a result of motor vehicle collisions involving big rigs and tractor trailers. From 2009 to 2013, there were an estimated 390,000 collisions involving large trucks. Driver behavior is the cause of some of these accidents but there is also another cause as well: deferred or inadequate maintenance leading to unsafe big rigs.
Truck Maintenance Problems Increase Collision Risks
The Post Gazette reports that many of the trucks traveling throughout the United States are not roadworthy vehicles. In fact when trucks are pulled over and subject to inspection, approximately one out of every six is found to be violating safety regulations. The problems with these trucks are “so badly out-of-order” that the big rigs and the tractor trailers are “unsafe to drive.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a federal organization that creates some maintenance standards for trucks. However, states also have authority to set their own rules and requirements, and there is little or no uniformity associated with what trucks have to do to be safe on the roads. There is also inconsistent enforcement across state lines. These factors can make it difficult for trucks to understand exactly what their obligations are. The lack of enforcement also increases the chance that drivers and trucking companies will decide that it is not worth the time and money to correct safety problems within their fleet of vehicles.
When a truck has maintenance problems, the risk of an accident increases. Approximately 25 percent of the fatal truck accidents involving tractor trailers in the U.S. involve trucks that have already been cited for violating safety rules.
A failure to follow local safety laws is the single most common reason why trucks are cited for violations. A total of 1,834,850 citations were issued because the truckers didn’t comply with local rules. Another 1,466,874 citations were issued because truckers did not have adequate signals or headlights as required by law. Some trucks had headlights and signals that were entirely broken, leading to another 1,381,950 citations. Other broken truck parts were the cause of 1,152,071 citations and finally there were 1,138,237 trucks cited for having low tire tread.
A new scoring system instituted at the federal level called Compliance, Safety, Accountabilityhas launched now and is drawing attention to the widespread problems of truck maintenance issues. However, this program does little to actually step up enforcement or ensure that trucks which can’t pass safety inspections don’t continue to stay on the road. Some have suggested that a federal enforcement program could solve this problem, but this would be a hard sell as there are many who are against it. Past experience with federal programs designed to solve safety problems have also proven to be ineffective in many cases.
Trucking companies and big rig drivers are in the best position to ensure they are not cutting corners when it comes to truck safety. It is time for them to take responsibility for making sure no unsafe trucks are on the road.
Contact Bell & Pollock at (877) 744-5900 or visit www.bellpollockinjury.com to schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Denver, Greenwood Village and Steamboat Springs, Colorado.