What is the Leading Cause of Preventable Virginia Truck Accidents?

A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Even under ideal driving conditions, the combined weight of the tractor, trailer, and payload is going to take more time to come to a stop than a passenger vehicle. This makes brake failures and malfunctions a leading cause of preventable commercial truck accidents. An untold number of injuries and fatalities could be avoided if freight companies took the time to ensure that their fleet was properly maintained and truck operators used proper braking procedures.

The Virginia large truck accident attorneys at the law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have over four decades of experience in handling collisions involving truck brake failure. We know the most practical and efficient methods of pursuing financial compensation on behalf of our injured clients. We also operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you don’t pay anything at all unless we win your case. Call our offices in Virginia Beach today to schedule your free case review.

What Do Commercial Truck Brakes Fail?

Tractor-trailers have 18 wheels, and those 18 wheels rely on an extremely complicated system of electrical, mechanical, air, and hydraulic brake systems. A truck’s brakes have to be evenly balanced and correctly adjusted, and operators need to know exactly what they are doing to ensure their safety and the safety of those around them.  

Catastrophic brake failures are usually the result of negligence, including: 

  • Improper maintenance: Brakes use friction to work and friction generates heat. A truck’s brakes have to be correctly adjusted at all times in order to prevent overheating.
  • Insufficient inspections: If a truck’s brake system experiences greater wear and tear in one particular area, it is an indication of a balance issue or a mechanical problem that could lead to brake failure.
  • Inadequate training: Not every trucking school is a good trucking school. The best ones are accredited by the state. In Virginia, this accreditation is overseen by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Freight companies should use only schools that are currently accredited. They should also offer their drivers routine safety training.
  • Inexperienced operators: The longer a trucker has been on the job, the less prone he is to making errors, including braking errors, that could cost lives. Experienced truckers should be paid a higher wage because their retention in the industry is crucial.  
  • Negligent hiring practices: Big freight companies have a high rate of turnover, so they are always on the lookout for brand-new drivers. Rather than paying their drivers a better salary and improving their working conditions, they typically try to cut corners by employing new drivers with very little experience or bad driving records.  
  • Overloading trucks: Trucks that are too heavy cause a lot of wear and tear on their brakes. They also have greater stopping distances, and make accidents more dangerous if and when they occur. The weight of a commercial truck needs to be closely tracked and corrected right away if necessary.
  • Speeding: Driving too fast places undue stress on a vehicle’s brakes and raises the odds of a mechanical failure happening. Freight companies need to closely monitor their drivers, offer rewards for driving safely, and enforce penalties for dangerous driving practices. 

How do Experienced Truck Operators Prevent Brake Failure?  

Any good truck operator with lots of experience will have certain techniques they use to prevent collisions resulting from brake failure, including: 

  • Perform a pre-trip inspection
  • Fix any issues before hitting the road
  • Apply brakes slowly and gradually
  • Monitor their brake gauge
  • Stay focused on the roadway
  • Apply even pressure when depressing the brakes
  • Lower speed by downshifting 
  • Keep their truck and the trailer aligned with one another
  • Take notice of all steep-grade signs
  • Pull off the road if the brakes get hot
  • Use runaway ramps if they can’t stop

Were You Injured in a Commercial Truck Brake Failure Crash?

To speak to an experienced Virginia large truck accident lawyer about your potential personal injury claim, call the Virginia Beach law offices of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp at (833) 997-1774. We offer a free initial case evaluation to all potential clients. 

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