Bad brakes on semi trucks

It doesn’t take a Texas truck accident attorney to know that semi-trucks take longer to stop than passenger cars. Accident reconstruction textbooks even include formulas for calculating the stopping distance of a big rig and all of the leading software used by accident reconstruction experts does the same thing.

18 wheeler accidents brakes
Accidents with bad brakes

Given the length and distance to stop the big rig with good brakes it makes the condition of the brakes on the tractor and trailer significantly important to avoid some accidents. If the brakes are not adequately and properly maintained, or out of adjustment, the consequences can be devastating if the semi truck must be stopped quickly.

There are many truck accidents across the state of Texas where the condition of the semi-truck brakes are not an issue because the stopping distance was not important in determining whether the accident could have been avoided. There are other situations, like a rear end truck accident where the condition of the braking capacity of the truck may be an important issue in a truck accident lawsuit.

Recently, trucking companies represented by insurance defense counsel have undertaken to put the tractor-trailer combination back in service as soon as possible and before injured victims have had a chance to hire Texas truck accident attorneys to look at the vehicles and determine if the condition of the semi-truck played any role in the accident. It is critical that truck accident victims obtain the best attorneys they can find to represent their interests early on after a serious truck accident.

Some questions

How Long Does It Take A Semi Truck To Stop?


Because a big rig can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, the consequences of a crash with one of these big monsters can be significant. In fact, most of the semi truck wrecks that occur with passenger cars result in very serious injuries on the part of the passenger car occupants.

When you add highway speeds and even speeding trucks coupled with the weight of the 18-wheeler, the physics of a crash are astonishing. Because of the high incidence of serious injury and even wrongful death claims because of a truck crash, commercial truck drivers and trucking companies are required to have commercial policies for their drivers and vehicles. These higher limit insurance policies as a practical matter generally start at $1 million per incident.

So how long does it take to stop a big rig?

At highway speeds, it usually takes approximately one-third longer for a tractor-trailer to come to a complete stop then it would take a typical passenger car. This makes the safety cushion or assured clear distance extremely important for a truck driver to maintain. The actual stopping distance depends on a number of factors, such as the roadway material, the weight of the truck as loaded and the condition of the brakes.

Because it takes a trucker much longer to stop, they should maintain a safe distance between vehicles.

See USDOT image below for stopping differences between cars and tractor-trailers.

Cars vs Trucks
Cars vs Trucks

Credit: Utah DOT

Do many trucks actually have bad brakes that contribute to an accident?

As a percentage, the trucks that actually have braking systems that are in poor or improper operating condition is very small. However, as far as commercial vehicle accident litigation, the cases in which a truck does have bad brakes usually turn out to be fairly compelling to a jury. The only way to know if the vehicle’s brakes were in proper operating condition at the time of the crash is to inspect the vehicle with a qualified expert.

Should every big rig be inspected after an accident?

If the wreck involved a fact scenario where the condition of the truck may have contributed to the crash itself and the injuries are substantial, a vehicle inspection is probably necessary. If the accident was caused primarily by driver error and not by the equipment, the inspection may not be required. In some instances, the DPS inspect the truck for inadequacies and document those fairly well after a crash.

Do Federal Regulations regarding brakes apply in Texas?

The state of Texas adopted the federal regulations that apply to truck drivers and generally follow the same regulations. Of course, there are exceptions to the regulations and if there is any question about the application, it is best to consult a law firm with experience in semi truck crash lawsuits.

If you or loved one has been seriously injured in a Texas truck wreck contact the Texas semi truck crash attorneys at the Baumgartner Law Firm at 1-866-758-4529 , for a free no obligation consultation.

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