A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This is about 10 to 15 times heavier than the average car, yet trucks only require 20-40 percent more braking distance. This is only possible when their braking systems are in good working order. However, cutting corners on brake inspections and maintenance, as well as engaging in unscrupulous practices can severely degrade a semi-truck’s braking capability and place the driving public at risk. These negligent practices can result in the following problems:
Failure to Identify and Correct Balance and Timing Problems
A poorly balanced braking system means that the brakes on the different wheels of the tractor and trailer don’t apply equal braking power. This may cause the truck to pull to the side when braking. Although this may be manageable when coming to a gradual stop, hard braking during an emergency may cause loss of control.
A badly timed braking system is another problem caused by poor maintenance. This occurs when the tractor’s brakes are poorly synchronized with those of the trailer. When applying the brakes, the trailer brakes should engage by a slight margin before the tractor brakes. If the tractor brakes engage first, the trailer may push against the tractor and cause stability problems during hard braking or in slippery road conditions.
Poor Tire Maintenance
The tires play an important role because effective braking isn’t possible without good tire traction with the road. Low tire pressure and worn tread diminish this traction, particularly on wet pavement. Worn tread also does a poor job of channeling water away from under the tire, which increases the risk of hydroplaning.
Brake depowering is the practice of relying completely on the trailer braking system by depowering the tractor brakes. Unscrupulous truck drivers will depower their tractor brakes when pulling a trailer belonging to a customer. This prevents wear and tear on the brakes and tires of the tractor, which is either owned by the driver or his employer. While this saves on tractor maintenance costs, it endangers the public because the tractor-trailer rig uses fewer brakes, which increases braking distance. It also causes stability problems on slippery roads.
If an accident with a truck injured you or a loved one, an experienced Charles County accident attorney can advise you of your legal options. For an assessment of your case, contact us at the Law Offices of John Critzos, II.
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