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How Safe Is That Eighteen Wheeler In The Lane Next To You?

Huntsville Injury AttorneysWe share the road with big trucks. Most truckers are trained, safety-conscious drivers. Most truckers work hard to reach their destinations safely.

In past articles, I’ve discussed the health and safety issues truck drivers face. Truck driver health is a concern. Sitting long hours for your job. Sleeping away from home. Eating on the road. It is difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many drivers face health issues. Diabetes. Obesity. Sleep apnea. Some of these health issues create safety risks on the roadway. The large companies employing truck drivers need to do a better job keeping their workforce healthy. You can read some of my past truck driver health and safety articles on this blog. In several of my past articles, I discuss important health issues facing truckers. On several occasions I’ve also written about problems and fraud in the medical certification system. Here, in Alabama, we’ve seen fraudulent medical certifiers put dangerous drivers on our roadways.

I’m not writing today about truck drivers. I’m writing about the trucks they driver. Are the commercial trucks on our roads and highways safe? Are trucking companies putting drivers on the road with dangerous equipment? We drive next to big trucks every day assuming they are safe. We assume those trucks have been maintained, serviced and properly equipped. But, recent studies indicate too many trucking companies put dangerous trucks on our highways.

Consider the results of a truck inspection blitz last year in the United States and Canada. In June 2019, officials inspected 67,072 trucks over a three day period. Based on inspections, 12,019 of the trucks were removed from our highways. Those trucks had defects SO dangerous that they had to be completely removed from our roads. That’s 17.9% of the trucks inspected. Think about those numbers. Almost 1 of every 5 trucks near you on the highway has some serious safety issue and should not be on the road!

The 2019 safety inspection blitz did show improvement. In 2018, 21.6% of the inspected trucks were put out of service. We can and must do better if we want to protect our roadways.

What was the most common safety issue in the inspected commercial trucks? Braking systems. The most common safety problems in order:

  • Braking systems
  • Tires / wheels
  • Brake adjustments
  • Cargo securement
  • Lighting

I’m not surprised by the list of most common problems. We recently resolved a case where a commercial vehicle traveling over Monte Sano on Governors Drive in Huntsville lost control, crossed the median and hit a car head-on. The accident scene was terrible. What happened? The truck was traveling downhill when its trailer swerved (fishtailed), forcing it across the median. The trailer brakes were not properly connected, preventing the driver from slowing it. The trailer load was also not secured well. Pictures taken at the scene also indicated the trailer tires were too worn. The accident revealed three of the top safety problems! The truck was a serious danger on our Alabama roads. Why did the company not act to put a safe vehicle on the roadway and prevent this terrible accident? Why did the company put its own driver in this position?

We talk a lot about driver safety. Drivers are essential to safety. But, we should also be discussing equipment. Every eighteen wheeler on our highways should have safe, working equipment. Brakes, tires and lights are basic equipment that should always be inspected and maintained for safety.


The Blackwell Law Firm helps families across Alabama following a serious accident and injury. Our personal injury cases include both car accidents and commercial truck accidents. When a commercial vehicle causes an accident, you need counsel who understands the rules and regulations that apply. If you have questions about a legal issue, let us know. Consultations are always free and confidential.