Why Poor Maintenance of a Semi-Truck Increases the Risk of a Catastrophic Crash in Louisiana

inside hood of commercial truck

Many commercial truck accidents are caused by the negligence of the driver. While this often means the driver did something reckless on the road, negligence also includes failure to maintain the truck. For example, the driver may have failed to get the brakes repaired, even though they needed a tune-up.

Proving negligent maintenance of a commercial truck can be a complex task. Galloway Jefcoat’s experienced Lafayette truck accident lawyers have secured compensation for victims of these accidents. We not only have the resources to gather the evidence we need, but we have also done it before, and we have detailed knowledge of the steps involved.

We do not get paid unless you receive compensation. Call: (337) 984-8020.

Maintenance Issues That Could Result in a Truck Accident

Routine maintenance is essential, whether you are driving a car, pickup truck, SUV or commercial truck. That said, commercial trucks log significantly more miles than passenger vehicles. Proper repair and upkeep of a semi-truck or 18-wheeler are even more important than they are for other vehicles.

Here are some examples of commercial truck components that could fail or break down and cause a crash if they are not properly maintained.


Commercial trucks take much longer to stop. If the brakes fail or do not work as effectively as they should, there is a higher risk of a crash.

Brake pads wear down and if they are not replaced, the brakes could fail when they are needed most. Other aspects of the brakes that should be regularly inspected include:

  • Brake lines
  • Brake fluid
  • Parking brakes
  • Pneumatic components
  • And more

Proper maintenance is not only about replacing parts that are no longer effective, but it is also about ensuring the correct parts are used. If there are mismatched sets of parts, the brakes might not do their job.


Driving on underinflated or worn-down tires is incredibly dangerous. An underinflated tire has a higher risk of blowing out – a blowout of an underinflated tire could be triggered by running over something too fast.

Drivers and others responsible for commercial trucks need to make sure the treads on their tires are deep enough to maintain traction. As tires wear down and the treads get smaller, it becomes more difficult for the tires to grip the ground, particularly if the road is wet from rain.

Tires that are too old, or that have not been properly maintained, could increase the risk of a rollover crash. This could be fatal for those in passenger vehicles.

Steering Components

Truck drivers need to be able to control the truck, which is why problems with steering can be so dangerous. Some of the issues that could arise include:

  • Power steering system failure
  • Malfunctions with steering pumps
  • Fluid leaks
  • Blockages in steering hoses
  • Worn-out belts

There are telltale signs that steering components need to be repaired. For example, the wheel may vibrate or feel loose.

Coupling Holding the Trailer

The trailer being hauled by a semi-truck is connected to the cab through a coupling. If this coupling is not holding the trailer securely, the trailer could come loose while the truck is in motion.

Turn Signals, Reflectors and Lights

A missing reflector or broken taillight can make a commercial truck crash much more likely. This is particularly true at night or in areas with few or no streetlights.

Turn signals and headlights also need to be maintained. As soon as a driver finds out that a light is not working, it needs to be fixed. Visibility is a critical factor in avoiding a collision, particularly for the driver of a commercial truck.

Who is Responsible for Maintaining a Commercial Truck?

Multiple parties may be responsible for ensuring a commercial truck is properly maintained. For example, when a driver discovers a problem, it must be reported.

Trucking companies also have a responsibility to ensure the vehicles they put out on the road have been properly maintained.

Sometimes the repair and maintenance of a fleet of commercial trucks is outsourced to a third party. This party is responsible for the repairs it completes or fails to complete. The appropriate parts must be used, and the mechanics need to do good work. Oversights with repairs could cause a crash and the repair shop may bear liability for damages if a crash occurs.

What are the Rules on Inspecting and Repairing Commercial Trucks in Louisiana?

The commercial trucking industry is federally regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Section 396.3 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) requires motor carriers to systematically inspect, repair and maintain all the commercial trucks they control.

All the parts and accessories on the truck must always be in safe and proper working order. Section 393 of the CFR contains a comprehensive list of all the parts and accessories on a commercial truck that must work as they should, such as:

  • Antilock brake system
  • Air brake system
  • Hazard warning signal
  • Hydraulic brake system
  • Integral securement system
  • Multi-piece windshield
  • Rear extremity
  • Steering wheel lash
  • Trailer kingpin
  • Tractor-pole trailer
  • Upper coupler assembly
  • Vacuum brake system
  • And much more

Any additional components that may impact the safe operation of the truck must also be maintained. This includes things like:

  • Frame assemblies
  • Suspension systems
  • Axles
  • Wheels
  • Rims
  • Steering system

Trucking companies are required to maintain records of inspections, repairs and maintenance of their vehicles. These records must be kept for one year or at least six months after the vehicle is out of the trucking company’s control.

It is also important to note truck drivers must inspect their vehicles before driving them. They need to make sure the vehicle is in safe operating condition.

Federal regulations also have a section about the qualifications of those who inspect a commercial truck’s brakes. For example, the inspector must have completed an approved apprenticeship program.

Why Maintenance is Often Ignored

Proper maintenance of a truck takes time and money. Trucking companies may not want to invest the money because it eats into their bottom line. There is also intense pressure to meet deadlines, for companies and the drivers they employ. This creates an incentive to ignore problems so deadlines will be met.

Truck drivers are also on the road a lot. They may be tired and not paying as much attention to problems that need to be repaired.

No matter the reason, when maintenance issues are ignored, drivers and other entities expose themselves to liability if a crash happens.

Call Galloway Jefcoat to Discuss Legal Options After a Truck Crash

Despite the dangers of driving a poorly maintained truck, these vehicles are often out on the road putting others at risk. When negligent maintenance leads to a crash, those responsible need to be held accountable. Victims also need significant compensation for their injuries.

Galloway Jefcoat is deeply committed to securing full compensation for truck accident victims. We know how devastating these collisions can be.

Free consultation and no upfront fees. Call us at (337) 984-8020.