Most often, truck accidents happen due to an error by a driver who is involved. Despite regulations that require trucks to be properly maintained, accidents due to equipment failures happen. When they do, they can cause serious and fatal accidents, as a recent fatal truck accident shows.
The truck accident made national headlines because of the number of people killed and the cause of the crash. A minivan carrying four children and four adults was traveling down a rural two-lane road when the trailer of a semi on the road became detached. The trailer struck the minivan, killing seven people in the minivan, including the children inside.
In the aftermath of the crash, which stunned even seasoned rescuers, investigators found that equipment had failed on the big rig. They found that a part that was supposed to lock the coupling between the tractor and failure had not worked, but they did not yet know why. Uusally, tractors are connected to tractors by a device called a fifth wheel. A pin on the trailer fits into a large piece of metal shaped like a horseshoe. An automatic locking device is supposed to secure the device.
Failures that cause the trailer to detach from the truck are extremely rare. Federal regulators said that from 2007 to 2011, 0.10 percent found involved the truck's couplings, hitches or chains. Although uncommon, runaway trailers and similar malfunctions are extremely dangerous. That's one reason why federal inspectors look for these problems during inspections.
Source: The Associated Press, "Equipment failure caused NY crash that killed 7," John Kerns, May 31, 2013
- Our law firm handles cases involving fatal truck accidents in the Los Angeles area. For more information, visit our page on accidents caused by improper truck maintenance.