Runaway trucks can be incredibly dangerous. This occurs when large commercial trucks lose control, usually because the braking system fails. When this occurs, there are very few chances for a commercial truck to stop naturally. Here, we want to discuss what exactly causes runaway trucks and who could be at fault if an accident occurs as a result of a runaway truck incident.
Defining a Runaway Truck
A runaway truck is a larger commercial truck that has last the use of its brakes on a downward slope. The reality is that larger vehicles, such as semi-trucks, garbage trucks, or delivery trucks are much more likely to suffer from brake malfunction due to the weight and size of the vehicle. This is especially true when the vehicle brakes are put under heavy pressure and use on steep declines, such as hills or mountains.
Runaway truck incidents can have various causes, and there may be multiple parties at fault. For example, if a trucking company fails to regularly inspect and maintain their vehicle and brakes as required under federal law, this significantly increases the chance of brake failure on a downward slope. In these circumstances, it is likely that the trucking company or inspection maintenance company will be held responsible for the incident.
The blame could also fall on a truck driver who fails to use or maintain the brakes properly while the vehicle is in motion. Every truck driver must be adequately trained to handle the operation of a truck on downward slopes.
Lastly, there could be problems with the brakes themselves. If a brake is defective from the manufacturer, or if the brakes are installed incorrectly, this could lead to a runaway truck situation. A truck accident lawyer in Houston can help determine who could potentially be liable for a crash occurring due to a brake failure.
Runaway Truck Ramps
You may have seen ramps along the right side of the road, often at the bottom of steep grades on the roadway. These ramps turn upward, and they are usually filled with gravel or sand. The ramps are designed to stop runaway trucks without placing the truck driver and others on the roadway in serious danger. If a truck driver experiences brake failure, they are supposed to steer their truck towards the ramp and onto the ramp in an effort to stop the vehicle.
What to do if You See a Runaway Truck
It is very likely that the driver of a runaway truck will use their air horn over and over again in an attempt to let drivers around them know that they cannot stop. If you are near a truck that seems to be having some kind of mechanical failure, you need to get your vehicle away from the truck’s vicinity. After doing this, if you can see that the truck driver is clearly in distress, dial 911 and let the dispatcher know that something is wrong.
If you see a truck heading for a runaway ramp at the bottom of a hill, keep your vehicle away from that area. Even if the truck does end up crashing, you need to stay away from the truck and let first responders handle the incident. In many cases, trucks are carrying hazardous materials that you may not be aware of that could affect your health and safety. If you or a loved one are injured in a crash involving a runaway truck, speak to a personal injury lawyer in Houston as soon as possible.