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Bad Brakes on Semi Trucks

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.

Given the length and distance to stop the big rig with good brakes, the condition of the brakes on the tractor and trailer is 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 is 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. Especially if the truck driver is following too closely.

What is following too closely?

Following too closely, per FMCSA, is a situation in which one vehicle follows another vehicle so closely that even if the following driver is attentive to the actions of the vehicle ahead, he/she cannot avoid a collision when the driver in front brakes suddenly. This causes a rear-end accident.

In addition to providing enough stopping time, proper following distance allows for more time to make good, well-planned decisions and affords other drivers the opportunity to scan the sides, look far enough ahead, and view the vehicle immediately in front.

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 5 percent of truck crashes occurred when the Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver followed the lead vehicle too closely.

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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. Truck accident victims must obtain the best attorneys to represent their interests early 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. Most of semi-truck wrecks with passenger cars result in 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 is 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 must have commercial policies for their drivers and vehicles. These
higher-limit insurance policies, as a practical matter, generally start at $1 million per incident.

At highway speeds, it usually takes approximately one-third longer for a tractor-trailer to come to a complete stop than 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 several factors, such as the roadway material, the loaded truck’s weight, and the brakes’ condition.

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

See the USDOT image below for stopping differences between cars and tractor-trailers.
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Credit: Utah DOT

Trucks with braking systems in poor or improper operating conditions are a small percentage of crashes involving injury or death.

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 as part of a truck accident investigation.

Should every big rig be inspected after an accident?

If the wreck involved a fact scenario where the truck’s condition 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 might not be required. Sometimes, the DPS inspects the truck for inadequacies and documents those fairly well after a crash.

Do federal regulations regarding brakes apply in Texas?

Yes, drivers are required to report safety items to the motor carrier. Trucking companies must keep the tractors and trailers in safe operating conditions. That includes brakes.
Texas adopted the federal regulations for truck drivers and generally followed the same ones. 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.
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Kinds of crashes that may involve bad brakes

If the brakes failed or did not stop the truck in a timely manner, they should be inspected as part of an accident investigation.

Out Texas truck accident attorneys see brake issues in many different types of cases, such as:

Often the brake issue comes into play when a truck driver fails to maintain a safe following distance. Stopping distance is a factor in almost all rear-end crashes.

Contact the Top-Rated Truck Accident Lawyer in Texas

If you or a 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.


Related Resources:

What you need to know about an 18-wheeler stopping distance

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