Although the following fatal accident happened clear across the country, it could just as easily have happened in New Jersey. A fiery crash on Sept. 18 in Arizona claimed the lives of two college students and their parents visiting from India. The cause: a semi-trailer failed to stop at a stop sign. The big rig’s driver claimed that the brakes had failed.
If the brakes did fail, it would appear that defective parts or faulty maintenance of this several-ton vehicle may have been the cause of the collision. Such a tragedy makes one wonder: Who is responsible in a large truck accident? It could be one of a number of players.
Driver, carrier and maintenance company
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 5,000 people died and 147,000 sustained injuries in 2020 in collisions involving large trucks on U.S. roads. A total of 51 of those fatalities occurred in New Jersey.
Any of these fatalities or injuries could be blamed on the following:
- The truck driver: Long hours on the road can lead to a fatigued driver who may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Sometimes, a truck driver may turn to alcohol and drugs while driving. The driver also may subscribe to reckless behavior.
- The trucking company: No short cuts allowed when hiring and training qualified drivers. By neglecting safety and training standards, companies can only bring danger to the road.
- The large truck manufacturer: We often hear of motor vehicle recalls because something defective was discovered. With trucks, common defects are faulty steering and faulty brakes.
- The maintenance company: A trucking company wants its fleet operating in tip-top shape; safe for roads and safe for other drivers. A mechanic mistake could lead to the large truck breaking down or causing a collision.
- The loading company: An unbalanced load may lead to shifting cargo. The potential results: The truck driver has difficulty controlling the vehicle, which may overturn on its side.
The finger of blame may point to multiple players, too, in some cases.
Negligence and carelessness
It is regretful that tragedies like the one in Arizona occurred. But they happen. However, we need to understand that negligence and carelessness often are the root of any type of motor vehicle crash, including the ones that involve a large truck.