Tractor trailers with safety defects were twice as likely to be involved in a serious accident as properly-maintained vehicles with up-to-date safety equipment. In a controlled study, more than a third of these accidents involved fatal injuries and 17 percent resulted in serious, permanent injuries.
Defective Vehicles Are Known to Have a Higher Crash Risk
Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2016 shows that serious vehicle defects can triple the risk that a truck will be involved in a crash. While other factors like driver fatigue and long shifts during short hauls certainly contribute to many accidents, safety defects alone are responsible for the great majority of accidents.
Modern Safety Equipment Lowers the Crash Risk
Newer vehicles that are equipped with the latest technology, and older vehicles that are upgraded, are safer. Safety features that prevent a significant number of accidents include electronic stability control, roll stability control, antilock brakes, speed monitors and devices that log the actual number of hours the operator drives the vehicle. To prevent front-end crashes, federal regulators are also considering mandating that a forward-collision-warning system with automatic braking be installed on new vehicles.
Of course, all of these systems work even better with a safety-conscious driver operating the vehicle. But in emergencies, even the best drivers can lose control. Antilock brakes do help the driver keep control in many emergency situations. Antilock brakes are not foolproof when the driver fails to keep an appropriate stopping distance between vehicles, however, especially in inclement weather.
Other Violations Contribute to Serious Accidents, Too
Trucks with “out-of-service” orders were more than four times more likely to be involved in a crash. These are orders issued by a commercial motor vehicle inspector to correct a safety violation related to a mechanical or loading problem with the truck. These kinds of problems can turn a moving or stalled truck into a serious road hazard. Such safety violations also include faulty brakes, worn tires or burned-out lights. Not surprisingly, carriers that have a long history of crashes and ignored safety citations, cause more accidents.
Ignoring Safety Violations and Failing to Correct Defects Costs Lives
Statistics show that it is most often the occupants of a passenger vehicle, not the truck driver, who are injured or killed in a collision between a truck and a car. Semi-trucks weigh 20-30 times as much as a passenger vehicle, are taller than cars and have a high ground clearance. When a truck strikes a passenger vehicle, the damage is often catastrophic.
When drivers violate work-hour regulations, they also put the driving public’s safety at risk. Driver fatigue, especially when an older driver or inexperienced driver is behind the wheel, other mechanical violations can go unnoticed or are ignored. Tired drivers of trucks put together with existing safety violations makes for a lethal combination.
To learn more, or to discuss an accident you or your loved one was involved in, we welcome you to contact our office for a free consultation.