Braking Ability and Large Truck Accidents

Commercial trucks require special air brakes in order to stop the longer and heavier commercial motor vehicles. These brakes do not operate in the same manner as passenger car brakes and the stopping distance of a large tractor-trailer is much greater than other vehicles on the road.

Modern tractor-trailers are equipped with a number of different braking systems in order to maintain the speed of the truck when traveling down steep inclines, slow the truck during normal traffic situations, and stop the tractor-trailer under emergency circumstances. The types of braking systems and associated speed control mechanisms are:

  • Air brakes – these are comprised of an air compressor and pressure system and are used to slow or stop the truck. There are air pressure gauges that are situated between the axles. Warning systems send out alerts about low pressure and leaks.
  • Anti-lock braking system (ABS) – this is a safety system that monitors the movement of the truck and activates the traction control and wheel lock when the truck begins skidding.
  • Traction control – This system allows for automated stability control and anti-roll technology.
  • Retarders – These are an alternative to the use of brakes to slow the truck and include features such as engine compression, driveline retarders, and exhaust brakes.
  • Cruise control – Maintains the speed of the truck, but may not be used in adverse weather conditions, when there is heavy traffic, or when the driver is experiencing signs of fatigue.
  • Parking brakes – these are only used to maintain the truck in a stationary position when parked and are not to be used when the vehicle is moving.

There are more than three million drivers operating large trucks that may weigh as much as 80,000 pounds on the roads across the United States. These large trucks cause devastating damage when they collide with other vehicles; therefore, it is critical that the braking systems be able to stop the tractor-trailers in emergency situations.

The braking ability of the truck may be compromised because of human negligence, either of the truck driver, the truck owner, the trucking company, or the mechanic who maintained the truck. One of the biggest problems involves lack of maintenance or an imbalance in the effectiveness of the various braking and slowing systems, which may include:

  • Improperly secured or overloaded trailers, which creates a weight imbalance;
  • Defective brakes and tires;
  • Negligently maintained brakes and tires;
  • A defective or damaged air supply system;
  • A pneumatic imbalance of the wheels;
  • Components that do not fit together correctly leading to inefficient braking;
  • Torque imbalance that leads to lock-up; and
  • Crystallized or low hydraulic fluids.

The ability of the truck to stop quickly also depends on the type of braking system in the truck. An older tractor-trailer that has drum brakes rather than disc brakes will take longer to stop. A driver must understand the nature of the truck that he is operating and adjust his driving technique accordingly. A truck driver who fails to account for the stopping ability of the truck when traveling at higher rates of speed, driving on slippery roads, or moving downhill may be negligent and accountable for the harm that any subsequent crash caused.

Peter Thompson & Associates Represents Truck Accident Victims

A tractor-trailer accident that results from an inability of the truck to stop before colliding with a car or other vehicle leads to devastating harm for those impacted. These types of accidents may involve many different types of negligence, from the driver up through the trucking company. The dedicated and skilled truck accident attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates will work with you to get the compensation that you need to recover from your injuries. Call us at 800.804.2004 to schedule an initial consultation.

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