Defective Brakes Can Cause Commercial Truck Accidents

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that in 2011 there were 113,775 crashes involving large trucks, resulting in 3,661 fatalities. The FMCSA's "Large Truck Crash Causation Study" analyzed three years worth of data and concluded that defective brakes were a factor in 26 percent of large truck crashes. Commercial brake failure, however, was the critical reason in only one percent of truck accidents.

Because of their mass and speed, defective and failing brakes on commercial trucks can result in serious and significant injury and damage. Most large commercial trucks use an air brake system. In the simplest terms, air builds up in the brake pipes or air lines and is released when the brake pedal is depressed. The air presses the brake shoe against the brake drum, causing friction that slows the truck down.

Causes of Truck Brake Failure

Because the air system has many different parts, a number of factors can cause truck brakes to fail. Poor air pressure, condensation and worn seals are just a few of the possible culprits. With so many critical parts, constant inspection and maintenance are critical to ensuring a properly functioning air brake system.

Of course, not all commercial truck crashes can be blamed on brake failure or another mechanical factor. The FMCSCA reports that the driver's actions were the critical reason for approximately 89 percent of large truck crashes. From daydreaming or sleeping to aggressive driving and substance abuse, drivers control the trucks and their negligence can quickly cause a disaster.

Who is Responsible?

When large commercial trucks cause accidents, truck drivers and truck companies can be held liable for the resulting damage, injuries and deaths. The basis for liability could be a failure to properly maintain the truck or negligence in its operation. There are numerous possible causes of action in commercial truck accident litigation. For example, if brake failure caused the truck accident, the brake company or truck manufacturer may also be held liable for the accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a commercial trucking accident, contact an experienced trucking attorney to discuss your situation and your options.