Trucking Companies Know They are Responsible for Truck Maintenance Failures
Commercial trucking and interstate passenger buses in the U.S. are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA’s primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries, in part through “strengthening commercial motor vehicle equipment and operating standards” and “ensuring safety in motor carrier operations through strong enforcement of safety regulations.”
To that end, the FMCSA has adopted a vast volume of regulations addressing every aspect of the trucking industry, including truck maintenance. The FMCSA makes motor carriers (trucking companies) responsible for inspecting, repairing, and maintaining their vehicles, and keeping suitable records for each vehicle. Carriers are also responsible for ensuring that any third-party company hired for specific maintenance tasks performs according to regulations.
In other words, trucking companies know they are responsible for maintaining their vehicles. And to make it crystal clear, FMCSA Regulation 396.7 states:
Commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) must not be operated in such a condition as to likely cause an accident or a breakdown of the vehicle.
The FMCSA further identifies “Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards,” which says “A vehicle does not pass an inspection if it has one of the following defects or deficiencies,” and in nearly 4,000 words addresses detailed requirements for:
- Brake System (service brakes, parking brake system, brake drum or rotors, brake hose, brake tubing, low pressure warning device, tractor protection valve, air compressor, electric brakes, hydraulic brakes, vacuum systems)
- Coupling devices (fifth wheels, pintle hooks, drawbar/towbar eye, drawbar/towbar tongue, safety devices, saddle-mounts)
- Exhaust system
- Fuel system
- Lighting devices
- Safe loading
- Steering mechanism (steering wheel play, steering column, front axle beam and all steering components other than steering column, steering gear box, Pittman arm, power steering, ball and socket joints, tie rods and drag links, nuts, steering system)
- Suspension (U-bolts; spring assembly; torque, radius or tracking components)
- Frame (frame members, tire and wheel clearance, adjustable axle assemblies (sliding subframes))
- Wheels and rims
- Fasteners (spoke and disc wheels)
- Windshield glazing
- Windshield wipers
Motor carriers know which systems on their trucks they must maintain for trucks to be safe on the road, and they have safe operation standards for each. Further, they are told in FMCSA rules, Part 396 — Inspection, Repair, And Maintenance, at 396.1(a):
Every motor carrier, its officers, drivers, agents, representatives, and employees directly concerned with the inspection or maintenance of commercial motor vehicles must be knowledgeable of and comply with the rules of this part.
There’s no excuse. Motor carriers can and should be held responsible when they fail to maintain their trucks and this leads to accidents. In some cases, equipment was faulty from the start, and the manufacturer may be held accountable for losses in an accident, too.
And we know that failure of commercial truck parts and systems, often due to faulty maintenance, leads to crashes. The most comprehensive study of truck maintenance accidents ever conducted, known as the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS), found that of 78,000 truck crashes examined, a failure of the vehicle was identified in 8,000 crashes, 10 percent of all crashes for which a “critical reason” could be determined.
As your truck accident attorneys, Babcock Partners will work to show that a truck’s failure led to your accident and injury, and the failure was due to maintenance that was faulty or not done at all. This requires knowledge of large trucks and their operations, and how to identify their failures after the fact.
Babcock Partners sometimes relies on accident reconstruction specialists whom we regularly work with to assist with the investigative work required to determine how and why your track accident occurred. With a convincing case built on solid evidence, we can obtain compensation for you.