Proper braking technique is very important in a big rig, particularly on a downhill slope. A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh 80,000 pounds or more. Brakes use friction to slow down or stop a truck. Excessive braking on a decline can cause overheating and lead to brake fade, a condition in which friction and effectiveness of a truck’s brakes are reduced. Continued overuse of the brakes can cause them to fail entirely, leading to deadly truck accidents.
Why Is It So Important to Hire Experienced Truck Drivers?
With the national shortage of truck drivers, trucking companies are hiring more inexperienced drivers today. This puts everyone on the roadways at risk. Large commercial trucks are more difficult to operate than passenger vehicles and far more dangerous when they crash. Inexperienced, insufficiently trained truck drivers often lack the knowledge and skills to avoid dangerous situations, such as overheating the brakes on a downgrade. Researchers found that the first year of driving a commercial motor vehicle is riskier in terms of moving violations, crash rates, and crash involvement in a recent study.
How Do You Brake Correctly While Traveling Downhill in a Large Truck?
To brake correctly on a downgrade, truck drivers should first determine a maximum safe speed for the road and conditions, select the right gear for traveling down the slope, allow natural acceleration to take them up to the safe speed, then:
- Brake just enough to feel the truck slow down – for approximately three seconds.
- Release the brakes when the truck’s speed is reduced to five mph below the safe speed.
- Once the speed has increased again to the safe speed, repeat the two steps above.
- Continue braking and releasing until the bottom of the hill is reached.
What Happens When Truck Drivers Fail to Brake Correctly on a Downgrade?
Downhill braking can be challenging in a big rig. If done incorrectly, it can cause skidding or overturning. On a steep grade with a heavily loaded truck, the brakes can heat up quickly. Excessive braking on a long, downhill grade can cause the brakes to overheat and fail. Brake failure is a leading cause of truck accidents. Brake problems ranked among the top 10 factors contributing to crashes associated with large trucks and their drivers, as stated in the Large Truck Crash Causation Study Analysis Brief issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
When a truck’s brakes fail because of improper braking techniques, it can lead to deadly collisions. A large truck can rear-end the vehicle in front if the driver is not able to stop in time. If the brakes go out at an intersection, the truck can hit another vehicle in a catastrophic T-bone crash. When a large commercial truck collides with a passenger vehicle, occupants of the much smaller vehicle are likely to suffer serious injuries.
How Can a Charleston Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
If you or your loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by improper braking, your best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve is to have an experienced personal injury attorney handling your claim. It is important to act quickly so your lawyer can take steps to obtain and preserve valuable evidence contained in the truck’s box.
Truck accidents are complex cases involving state and federal regulations and multiple potentially liable parties. Our experienced Charleston truck accident lawyers can investigate your accident, gather evidence to support your claim, assess the full extent of your damages, negotiate skillfully on your behalf, and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact Allen Law at (843) 882-5005 for the legal help you need after a serious truck accident.