Whether or not a big rig causes a collision, commercial vehicles such as huge 18-wheelers pose a greater danger than cars in a crash. That’s one reason why trucking inspections are vital and emphasized in Texas and nationwide to help decrease semi-truck accidents.
Such inspections are random and can catch only a fraction of the commercial vehicle problems on our roads. But they do help.
In one recent month, the Texas Department of Public Safety inspected almost 7,900 vehicles and pulled nearly 22 per cent of them off our roads due to various defects. These included 18-wheelers, buses and other large commercial vehicles.
Truck inspections often involve DPS personnel waving down big rigs as they pass and directing them to a weigh station just off the roadway. There, trucks are scrutinized with equipment much like security devices at an airport, only in this case the devices note problems such as faulty brakes, defective axles or low tires.
Inspectors also check driving logs to ensure drivers aren’t overworking by driving for too many hours at a time. They also note if trucks are improperly loaded, since shifting, imbalanced or too-heavy loads can cause severe accidents.
In San Antonio’s home of Bexar County, nearly 2,000 commercial accidents have been reported this year, TxDOT says. But trucking inspections help fight this problem.
A DPS inspector in Bexar County said he evaluates 25 to 35 trucks per day, and he pulls two or three off the road — or about 10 per cent — due to various problems.
Yet such inspections can’t catch all defective vehicles — and they can’t prevent bad driving.
Many trucking accidents are blamed on driver error. Such errors can be caused by driver distractions, inattentiveness or fatigue. No weigh station inspection can guarantee these problems won’t occur in a vehicle which otherwise passes inspection for mechanical defects.
Of course, bad driving that causes a big rig crash may be the fault of the driver in a small passenger car, and not the trucker. But regardless of the cause, when lumbering diesel trucks are involved in a collision, injuries in smaller vehicles tend to be catastrophic, if not fatal.
Independently of driver errors, vehicle defects do cause many accidents, especially when big rigs lack effective brakes. That’s why trucking inspections get federal guidance from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Overall, about 10,000 CVSA-certified state, local, provincial and federal inspectors do bus and truck inspections nationwide. Such inspections have removed nearly 5 per cent of drivers and almost 19 per cent of the vehicles inspected in a given year.
Yet inspections involve a small and random part of the total number of commercial vehicles on our roads. And horrific big rig crashes remain a national nightmare.
If you’re wondering how many big rigs are on roads, the answer is about 2 million. Such trucks are involved in around half a million accidents annually. These cause 130,000 injuries — many of them debilitating — and about 5,000 fatalities, with nearly all of the victims being persons other than big rig drivers.
Clearly, problems found in roadside trucking inspections are only the tip of that iceberg. But at least the iceberg is whittled down by truck inspectors.
If someone in your family was injured in a crash with a commercial vehicle such as an 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, big rig, semi-truck or diesel truck, notify the experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyers at Jim Adler & Associates.