Large trucks and buses are a common sight on the roads and highways of California, and many motorists give them a wide berth whenever possible. Accidents involving commercial vehicles often result in death or catastrophic injuries, and truck drivers or trucking companies may face both civil and criminal sanctions when a crash is caused by negligent behavior. Federal and state agencies work hard to ensure that semi-tractor trailers and buses are safe, and thousands of roadside mechanical inspections are conducted each year to verify that these vehicles have been properly maintained.
Malfunctioning or defective braking systems are the most common mechanical issues discovered during these roadside checks, and efforts to reduce the number of commercial vehicle accidents caused by brake defects were initiated by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Commercial Vehicle safety Alliance in 1998. Operation Airbrake seeks to remind truck technicians and drivers of the importance of properly maintained braking systems, and the week of September 6-12 has been designated Brake Safety Week by the campaign.
Over three million commercial vehicles have been inspected since the launch of Operation Airbrake, and the braking systems of over 13,000 trucks and buses were checked during Brake Safety Week in 2014. These checks look for signs of excessive brake wear or substandard maintenance that could potentially lead to truck and bus braking systems becoming compromised or failing.
The owners and operators of semi-tractor trailers owe a duty of care to all other road users, and they may face litigation when they fail to meet this obligation. An attorney could file a lawsuit against trucking companies when poor driver training or supervision or lax maintenance lead to an accident that causes injuries to others. This litigation may seek compensation for the medical costs, property damage and lost income of accident victims.