Our neighbors in Georgia bore the brunt of a South Carolina company’s mistake on Jan. 24, when bad brake maintenance caused an avoidable accident in Effingham County. According to an article in the Savannah Morning News, a tractor-trailer that belonged to Smith Logging of Grays tried to stop for a stop sign and discovered that his brakes were not working. Rather than yielding the right of way as intended, the truck, which was fully loaded with logs, slid into the intersection and hit a van belonging to Effingham County, Ga. Fortunately, nobody involved was seriously hurt; two of the van’s passengers sustained minor injuries. A fire and rescue worker was quoted in the article expressing surprise that nobody was killed.
According to the article, the logging truck’s driver will likely be cited for failing to maintain the vehicle. That may sound minor, but it’s an important penalty, because statistics from the federal Department of Transportation show that shoddy vehicle maintenance is a critical cause in 10% of all large-truck crashes. The department’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that vehicle failures caused about 8,000 crashes involving large trucks — and brake failure alone was responsible for approximately 1,000 crashes. When you include failures that mislead other drivers, like missing headlights, those numbers may grow even bigger. In fact, brake-related problems, including but not limited to failures, contributed to 29% of all truck accidents, according to the study — the largest single contributing factor. In that light, trucking companies and truck owners must be held strictly responsible for maintaining their brakes and other essential truck equipment. Lives are in the balance.
As South Carolina truck accident lawyers, we know truck accidents are often catastrophic, especially if the victims were in a smaller passenger car. That’s simply because of the science affecting large trucks, which can weigh as much as 147,000 pounds. Because they weigh so much more than a passenger car, trucks bring significantly more physical force to an accident between a truck and a car. That means that regardless of fault or right-of-way, the people in the car are much more likely to be killed or very seriously injured than the truck’s driver. On a fully loaded logging truck like this one, the results could be even worse, because it could drop its load of logs and cause chaos in the roadway. When that much is at stake, regular maintenance should not be regarded as optional — for the sake of the truck driver, the trucking company and everyone they share the road with.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious accident with a large truck, contact the Louthian Law Firm today to speak with an experienced South Carolina accident attorney about your case.