Thousands of road users in West Virginia and around the country are injured or killed every year in accidents involving tractor-trailers, and many of these crashes are caused by trucks with poorly maintained or defective braking systems. Efforts to address this problem include the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Brake Safety Week, which is scheduled to commence on Sept. 16. During the weeklong safety initiative, trucks will be subjected to rigorous Level I inspections and will be ordered out of service if inspectors discover barking or other safety issues that place other road users in danger.
Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reveal the scope of the problem. After inspecting 407 commercial vehicles that were involved in serious accidents between 2001 and 2003, the FMCSA discovered that almost a third of them would have been ordered off the road for brake-related violations if they had been inspected earlier. Braking system violations are also the most common reason for out of service orders during the CVSA’s annual International Roadcheck safety blitz.
During Brake Safety Week, inspectors will check brake fluid and airlines for leaks or signs of wear, look for substandard repairs or defective parts and ensure that emergency warning systems are working properly. Police and commercial vehicle inspectors will also make efforts to educate truck drivers and tractor-trailer owners about the importance of following proper brake maintenance protocols.
Commercial vehicle owners owe a duty of care to other road users and are expected to ensure that their trucks are safe and properly maintained. When this duty is not met, experienced personal injury attorneys may pursue litigation on behalf of those who subsequently suffer injury, loss or damage. Civil cases are decided by the preponderance of the evidence, and the violations discovered and citations issued during safety efforts like Brake Safety Week could be used by attorneys to show that truck owners have acted negligently in the past.