Improper Braking Technique and Large Truck Accidents

Large truck drivers have a commercial driver’s license because it requires significant additional training and education to understand how operating a tractor-trailer is different from driving a car or light truck. Not only are commercial trucks longer, wider, and heavier, but they haul trailers that are coupled to the cab, thereby increasing the instability of the entire vehicle. When a driver does not understand how to maximize the efficiency of the brakes, there can be devastating accidents.

There are many ways in which a commercial truck driver can negligently apply the brakes. Proper braking technique for commercial drivers is based upon using the brakes to slow the speed of the truck without wearing them down to the point where they are insufficient to stop a truck traveling down a steep incline, thereby leading to a runaway truck. Proper braking technique includes applying brakes in a pumping action to decrease speed of the truck by five to six miles per hour under non-emergency braking situations. When a driver does not operate the vehicle in accordance with accepted practices, including braking technique, he may be liable for the harm caused in a subsequent accident.

A competent truck driver should implement the following braking techniques:

  • Pressing down on the brakes for two minutes in order to measure the air pressure of the braking system;
  • Maintain attention on the gauge that indicates the proper functioning of the air system;
  • Ensure that the truck’s transmission is in neutral when the parking brake is engaged;
  • Applying steady brake pressure when the anti-lock braking system is engaged;
  • Utilizing traction control when weather conditions, such as ice, snow, and mud, justify it; and
  • Maintaining pressure on the brakes when the anti-lock braking system is engaged in icy conditions.

A properly trained driver must understand what circumstances require pumping the brakes and what conditions warrant maintaining steady pressure on the brakes.

In many instances, a negligent truck driver is responsible for a truck accident due to a failure to understand how much stopping time is required to prevent a collision. In addition, a driver may fail to inspect the vehicle prior to leaving with the load. These drivers may cause accidents as the result of the following:

  • Applying the brakes in an improper manner when traveling over water on the road, leading to hydroplaning;
  • Failing to downshift and slow the speed of the vehicle as necessary;
  • Failing to brake before gaining too much speed, resulting in a runaway truck;
  • Applying the brakes in such a manner that the trailer is dragged and swings out to the side of the cab, causing a jackknife or rollover accident; and
  • Braking too hard for the circumstances, resulting in a shifting in the load and a spillage of the cargo, leading to impacts between other vehicles and the spilled goods.

Proper braking technique also involves understanding how to navigate down a steep incline, including:

  • Selecting the right gear to travel down the slope;
  • Allowing natural acceleration up to a maximum safe speed;
  • Applying the brakes to slow the truck by five miles per hour and continuing this process down the entire hill; and
  • Using the intermittent application of brakes to distribute energy between all the brakes.

Improper braking technique that rises to the level of negligence happens when a driver breaches his duty to operate the tractor-trailer with the reasonable care expected of a skilled commercial truck operator and causes an accident that leads to harm to another person.

Peter Thompson & Associates Works Hard on Behalf of Truck Accident Victims

Accidents involving tractor-trailers have tragic consequences for the people who are involved in the crash. These collisions involve high impact forces that are disproportionately transmitted to the occupants of the smaller and lighter vehicle. Victims often suffer from broken bones, crush injuries, and traumatic brain injury. Recovery is a long process involving emergency medical care, rehabilitation, and constant pain. The skilled and caring truck accident attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates will work to get you the compensation that you need to reclaim at least some of the former quality of life that you enjoyed before the truck accident. To schedule a confidential initial consultation, call us at 800.804.2004.

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