The large truck fatality rate in the U.S. has increased significantly since 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A number of these deadly accidents involving big rigs are caused by equipment malfunction. Tractor trailers must be manuvered by people who have been specially trained and licensed to operate the oversized vehicles. Yet, even the most seasoned truckers may have trouble handling a tractor trailer that is experiencing equipment malfunction.

Defective big rigs may experience problems with the following:

  •          Tires
  •          Brakes
  •          Steering mechanisms
  •          Speed monitoring controls

Even tractor trailers that have been equipped with state-of-the-art safety devices can be dangerous when those components fail to work properly.

In a study published in the National Institutes of Health, researchers evaluated large trucks that had been involved in a collision, as well as other big rigs on the road at the time an accident occurred. They found that 66 percent of the trucks that were not involved in a crash, and 77 percent of big rigs that were involved in a collision had significant mechanical defects. Many of the tractor trailers should not have been allowed out on the road in the first place.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets certain guidelines when it comes to inspecting and maintaining commercial trucks. Yet, some trucking companies and independent truckers fail to perform these necessary inspections, and as a result, continue to drive their dangerous vehicles. In 2012, officers conducted random roadside inspections of big rigs. More than 2.1 million trucks were immediately taken off of the road because they had too many equipment violations.

People who operate large trucks should be especially careful to check their equipment before setting out on the road. One small malfunction could cost someone their life.