No vehicle should be driven without being well-maintained and having any mechanical problems repaired. This is even more vital for an 80,000 pound truck that has more complicated parts and technical components than passenger vehicles. Truck inspections, maintenance, and repairs are so important that federal regulations mandate them. Unfortunately, many truckers and trucking companies fail to follow these federal rules, with the result being tragic crashes where victims suffer devastating injuries or death.
What Truck Maintenance Is Required Under Federal Regulations?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has detailed regulations on truck inspections, maintenance, and repairs that trucking companies and drivers must follow. The first important rule is that the trucking company, truck drivers, and anyone else involved in the inspection or maintenance of trucks be knowledgeable about and follow these federal rules. They are also required to:
- Trucking companies and their equipment providers must “systematically inspect, repair, and maintain or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained” all trucks within their control. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that all truck parts and components are in working order and safe when the truck goes out on the road.
- Trucking companies and truckers are prohibited from operating a truck if it is in a condition that is likely to cause an accident or a breakdown of the truck.
- Authorized personnel of the trucking company must mark any truck with an “out of service” sticker if it is in a condition that is likely to cause an accident or breakdown of the truck. Until all repairs on the “out of service” sticker are completed, the truck cannot be operated, and the sticker cannot be removed from the truck.
- Truck drivers are required to conduct a pre-trip inspection of the truck to ensure that it is in safe condition and that the load is secure. In addition, the trucker must review the last vehicle inspection report and sign the report verifying any needed repairs were completed.
- At the completion of every day’s work, truckers are required to complete an inspection of the truck and prepare a written report that documents any defect or deficiency they discovered. The truck cannot be driven until any defects and deficiencies that affect its safe operations are repaired.
What Components Are Truckers Required to Inspect?
The FMCSA regulations mandate what the trucker must inspect on a daily basis. The trucker must check at least the following and include them in his daily report:
- Parking and service brakes
- Steering mechanism
- Lights and reflectors
- Windshield wipers
- Rear view mirrors
- Coupling equipment
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
Common Maintenance and Repair Problems That Could Have Caused Your Accident
Many preventable accidents are the result of the lack of inspections, maintenance, and repair of the truck causing the crash. Common maintenance issues that cause or contribute to crashes include:
- Brake failure—a common problem
- Failure of the truck’s trailer hitch
- Tire blow outs caused by worn treads or poorly aligned wheels
- Suspension failure
- Steering component problems or failures
- Broken headlights, turn signals, or missing reflective surfaces
- Unsecured or improperly secured cargo
- Parts or loads falling out of the truck onto the roadway
- Increased stopping distance required due to worn, faulty, or improperly adjusted brakes
Records That Trucking Companies Must Keep That Could Help Your Case
A trucking company is required to maintain records regarding any truck it owns, leases, or operates. The reports should contain the following information
- An identification of the truck’s owner and style
- A list with the due date of inspections and maintenance tasks to be performed on the truck
- A record of the inspections, maintenance, and repairs of the truck
These records must be kept by the trucking company for a minimum of one year if the truck is in use by the trucking company or for six months after the truck leaves the company’s control. These documents could be crucial in showing that a lack of truck maintenance and repairs—in violation of federal regulations—caused your crash.
If you or a family member suffered injuries in a truck accident caused by a negligent driver, you need to contact an experienced truck accident attorney who may be able to help you obtain the trucking company records showing lack of maintenance caused your wreck—before the evidence is destroyed. Start an online chat today to schedule a free consultation with David Brauns and start learning more about your rights.
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