Most of the products on store shelves in Texas and around the country are delivered to retailers by semi-tractor trailers that can weigh as much as 40 tons. While large commercial vehicles play an important role in the economy, they are often involved in accidents because they have large blind spots, can be difficult to maneuver in emergency situations, and require a lot of road to stop. A fully-laden tractor-trailer traveling at 65 mph needs about the length of two football fields to come to a complete stop. Semi drivers perceive and react to dangerous situations just as quickly as car or SUV drivers, but their vehicles take far longer to stop because their brakes are different and they are much heavier.
The brake lines of passenger vehicles are filled with hydraulic fluid and work almost instantaneously, but commercial vehicles are fitted with compressed air brakes that do not work instantly. This is because it takes time to build up the air pressure needed for effective braking. This delay is called brake lag, and it can add more than 30 feet to a tractor-trailer’s stopping distance.
Tractor-trailers take even longer to stop when their braking systems are not functioning properly or are poorly maintained, and the results of an International Roadcheck safety blitz suggest that this is worryingly common. Between May 5 and May 7, 2020, more than 12,000 tractor-trailers were taken out-of-service because they failed roadside safety inspections, and almost 40% of them were ordered off the road because their baking systems were either not properly adjusted or defective.
Suing negligent truck operators
When accidents are caused by poorly maintained or badly repaired commercial vehicles, experienced personal injury attorneys may pursue compensation for road users who are harmed by filing lawsuits against negligent trucking companies. When they prepare for this kind of litigation, attorneys may check the results of safety initiatives like International Roadcheck to see if the defendant has been issued citations for safety violations in the past. If they have, attorneys could use this information to demonstrate a pattern of negligent behavior.