Large trucks differ from standard passenger vehicles in many ways. They frequently travel long distances, carry heavy loads and require special parts, such as air brake systems. These elements make it more important for trucking companies to properly inspect, maintain and service their trucks. A lapse in regular maintenance checks can lead to one or more dangerous vehicles in a trucking company’s fleet.
Laws Regarding Commercial Truck Inspections and Maintenance
If you own a trucking company or are a truck owner/operator, you are responsible for obeying federal and state vehicle maintenance requirements. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all motor carriers to be “systematically inspected, repaired and maintained to ensure that all parts and accessories are in safe and proper working condition at all times.”
This is a general requirement, but federal trucking regulations also include specific maintenance tasks, such as a requirement for drivers to complete daily written post-trip inspection reports at the end of each driving day. Federal trucking laws require daily inspections by drivers as well as annual comprehensive truck inspections.
In addition to federal trucking laws, you are also expected to obey state maintenance laws in Missouri as the owner or controller of a big rig. Missouri’s requirements mostly align with federal law, including the required daily driver inspections, post-trip inspection reports and periodic inspections at least once every 12 months. The law also includes a list of specific parts and accessories that must be covered during an inspection, such as the brakes, steering mechanism, tires, lighting devices, wheels and rims, and windshield wipers.
Recommended Truck Service Schedule
Most vehicles are serviced every 30,000 miles. Large trucks, however, should be inspected and maintained more often due to the nature of the trucking industry. To fulfill the legal truck maintenance and repair requirements and ensure that a commercial truck is in proper working condition at all times, the following schedule is suggested
- Every 15,000 miles: basic maintenance service; truck inspection; refill any fluids that are low; check brake functionality; ensure all lights are working.
- Every 30,000 miles: a thorough truck inspection; an oil change; fuel, air and oil filter change; minor repairs made.
- Annually: a comprehensive or full inspection; engine performance analysis; major repairs made; part or engine replacements, if necessary.
These are general guidelines that should be adjusted for unique situations. For example, if a truck appears to have any issues on a drive, the driver should report it immediately for prompt repairs. In addition, an older truck may need more frequent maintenance checks to run in optimal condition.
Poor Truck Maintenance Can Lead to Accidents
Keeping up with a regular truck maintenance and repair schedule helps ensure the safety of the trucking industry as a whole. If you fall short of the legal requirements for truck maintenance, you could be held liable for a related accident as the owner, such as a tire blowout accident, rear-end collision due to bad brakes or a lost cargo load. If a truck accident that causes injuries or deaths is traced back to poor truck maintenance, the owner or trucking company can be held responsible.
Common part breakdowns that lead to truck accidents are:
- Brake failures
- Tire blowouts
- Oil leaks
- Electrical issues
- Broken headlights
- Engine stalls or failures
- Broken clutch
- Dead batteries
- Alternator problems
- U-joint failures
- Dropped cargo loads
If you or a loved one gets injured in a truck accident, contact a Kansas City truck accident attorney for assistance. You may be eligible for financial compensation from the truck company or another party in Missouri. If you were driving a truck that was negligently maintained and were injured in an accident, you may qualify for workers’ compensation or a personal injury lawsuit against your employer for poor truck maintenance. An attorney can help you explore all of your legal options.