While many commercial trucking accidents are caused by operator negligence, other collisions may be due to the lack of truck maintenance and inspections. Truck drivers and their fleet employers are required to follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations regarding the inspection and maintenance of their trucks.
When they violate these rules, problems that could have been easily spotted go unnoticed, and unsafe trucks are traveling our highways and roads.
Without proper maintenance and frequent inspections, a key mechanical part or tire of a tractor-trailer can malfunction or fail, resulting in the operator losing control of his rig and causing a crash. Fortunately, you have legal rights if you're the victim of a truck crash caused by lack of maintenance, and may be able to hold the trucking company and its driver responsible for your injury compensation.
FMCSA Regulations Regarding Truck Maintenance and Inspections
The FMCSA regulations on truck maintenance apply to interstate carriers. These are transportation companies with a fleet that travels across state lines, which covers a large proportion of trucks on Missouri roads. Intrastate carriers are those that only travel within a specific state.
One of the most basic federal regulations is trucking companies are prohibited from allowing commercial vehicles on the road which are in danger of breaking down or causing an accident. Other rules include:
- Trucker pre-trip and post-trip inspections. Truck drivers are required to conduct a pre-trip and a post-trip inspection of their rigs and trailers. When conducting a pre-trip inspection, the driver must also review the prior driver’s report, which should include the post-trip inspection results. If any repairs were needed at the end of the last trip, the next driver must confirm the repairs are complete. Drivers are only allowed to take the vehicle on the road if they believe it's safe, and must complete reports documenting inspections.
- Daily trip report. At the end of the each working day, a trucker is required to complete a daily trip report regarding the rig and provide it to the fleet company. Any defects in the parts—such as brakes, tires, lights, coupling devices, mirrors, and steering—must be noted on the report.
- Periodic inspections and maintenance. A transportation company is required to systematically inspect, maintain, and repair its trucks to keep them safe. This includes completing a report of its inspection, maintenance, and repair. The FMCSA regulations list a number components and parts that must be inspected, including but not limited to mirrors, windshield wipers, tires, brakes, steering components, suspension, frame, and fuel system.
- Out-of-service sticker. If a truck is likely to breakdown or cause an accident, an out-of-service sticker should be placed on the truck, and it and the sticker shouldn’t be removed until the repairs are properly completed.
- Record keeping requirements. Trucking companies are required to maintain active fleet inspection and maintenance records for one year. After a truck is no longer in the company's inventory, records should be available for six months.
Common Maintenance Problems That Lead to Truck Accidents
Unfortunately some truck drivers and companies fail to complete necessary inspections, ignore repair problems, and neglect to make needed repairs. Mechanical defects in the trucks that cause or contribute to a crash include:
- Inoperative lights that make it difficult for the trucker to see and be seen
- Defective brakes or brakes that have been depowered to save on wear and tear and replacement costs
- Worn and defective tires, which are prone to blowouts and cause axle problems
- Engine component problems, such as fuel leaks and steering component defects
- Trailer defects that might force the trailer to become disconnected from the semi
Get Help from an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
If you believe the lack of inspections or maintenance of a large commercial vehicle was the cause of your accident, you'll need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney to prove this. He'll know the FMCSA rules regarding inspection and maintenance; can obtain the inspection and repair records from the trucking company to prove possible negligence; and can negotiate a rightful settlement. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation and learn how our legal team can help.