The Role of Maintenance in Preventing Fleet Driver Accidents
Proper maintenance is crucial for fleet vehicles to operate safely and avoid breaking down. When companies fail to regularly inspect and repair vehicles, it dramatically increases the chances of their drivers getting into accidents. This article will examine common maintenance procedures for fleet trucks and what happens when critical parts fail. It will also look at some of the leading causes of commercial truck crashes to understand how lack of maintenance contributes to hazardous road conditions.
Regular Oil Changes and Filter Replacements
Oil lubricates the engine and keeps it from overheating or seizing up. When oil gets old, contaminated and starts to lose its viscosity, it can trigger engine failure and leave drivers stranded on the roadside or unable to accelerate properly into traffic. Replacing air, fuel and oil filters ensures optimally functioning parts, horsepower and mileage. Ignoring these basic maintenance tasks invites cracked engine blocks, stalling and an inability to brake sufficiently.
Checking Brake Condition and Stopping Ability
Brakes are what enable trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds to come to controlled, complete stops. But with consistent heavy loads and frequent stopping, brake pads, rotors, calipers and lines wear out over months of driving. Visual inspections and brake testing should happen weekly to see if pads need replacing or hardware needs servicing. Loss of braking power is extremely hazardous and removes the driver’s ability to avoid collisions.
Inspecting Steering Components
Safe steering requires tight ball joints, tie rods, power steering fluid, aligned axles and proper tire pressure. Loose or worn steering linkages cause wandering, instability and an inability to make evasive maneuvers. Low power steering fluid or leaks reduce turning ability and raise the chance of rollovers. Out-of-alignment axles cause rapid, uneven tire wear and pull trucks unpredictably to the right or left. These conditions make trucks impossible to fully control.
Replacing Worn Tires and Re-Aligning Axles
Bald tires are unsafe in any vehicle, but they pose greater risks for heavier trucks with expansive blind spots. As treads wear down, traction lowers significantly, stopping distances increase dramatically and blowouts become more likely. Hitting potholes or debris can more easily puncture the tire. Aligning axles ensures even tire tread wear so they can be replaced as a whole set. Unaligned axles lead to inside/outside uneven wear and hazardous steering loss.
Confirming Functional Headlights, Signals and Reflective Tape
Trucks need working headlights for night driving visibility. They rely heavily on turn signals, brake lights and hazard lights to communicate stopping, turning and merging intentions. Reflective tape outlines truck parameters to nearby drivers. Yet these safety features degrade over time and may not get replaced unless they are specifically inspected. Loss of lighting, signals or reflectivity makes trucks nearly invisible at night and eliminates their ability to signal lane changes, turns or stops.
Why Lack of Maintenance Leads to Crashes
A lack of maintenance drastically reduces fleet truck safety by:
· Removing the ability to accelerate/decelerate to avoid crashes
· Lengthening the stopping distance and reducing brake responsiveness
· Causing wandering, jackknifing and loss of control
· Increasing blowout and rollover likelihood
· Eliminating lighting and hazard communication at night
These maintenance oversights leave commercial drivers without essential safety tools. Their trucks become hazards endangering everyone sharing the roads rather than safely operated business equipment.
Common Causes of Fleet Truck Accidents
While any driver can cause a collision, companies who push unsafe equipment and policies onto drivers should be held liable. Here are some leading causes of preventable fleet accidents:
· Fatigued or impaired driving – companies requiring overlong driving shifts without rest
· Overloading trucks beyond legal weight limits, hurting braking
· Failure to correctly secure shifting loads, causing instability
· Pressure to meet unrealistic delivery deadlines, prompting excessive speeding
· Lack of driver training on handling emergencies and adverse weather
These profit-focused business decisions undermine truck safety in exchange for faster delivery times and higher efficiency. But no deadline or financial incentive outweighs the threat posed by 80,000-pound vehicles that cannot steer or stop properly.
Staying on top of maintenance checks and promptly replacing worn parts could prevent the vast majority of fleet truck crashes. Following component manufacturer guidelines for scheduled upkeep provides commercial drivers with the equipment function they need to operate rigs safely around passenger motorists. But companies focused solely on profits continue dodging this preventative responsibility. Drivers and accident survivors should not pay the price for businesses cutting corners.
Seeking Legal Representation After Truck Collisions
Truck crashes incur substantially higher injury severity due to truck weight and lack of passenger protections. Because the majority of accidents involve some degree of fleet company negligence through lack of maintenance, overloading or driver negligence, accident survivors should always consult an attorney about their legal options. A lawyer can help document unsafe vehicle conditions, obtain company policy records, demonstrate willful negligence and file claims ensuring the victims receive coverage for:
· Medical expenses from injury treatments, rehabilitation and long-term care
· Lost income from missed work time
· Pain and suffering damages
· Wrongful death expenses if a passenger is killed
Holding fleet companies financially accountable motivates them to fix unsafe internal policies and prevents future innocent motorists from injury or death. No truck crash victim should have to pay for damages from a preventable company-caused accident. Discuss your legal rights with a qualified truck accident attorney as soon as feasible after collision injuries.
Truck accident law is complex, but the right attorney levels the playing field and handles all aspects of the case so you can focus on healing from your injuries. Do not leave compensation to chance or wait and see what the insurance companies might offer. By promptly pursuing legal representation from The Law Offices of Pardy & Rodriguez, truck crash victims put themselves in the best position to recover damages covering short and long-term medical expenses, lost pay, lowered future earnings, pain and suffering, and wrongful death costs in fatality cases.
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