Report: Fatal N.C. Truck Crash Involved Trailer With No Working Brakes

A school teacher was killed in March when her minivan was crushed by a dump truck that struck from behind on U.S. 1 in Raleigh as she was stopped for traffic. trucksontheroad1

Now, authorities say that North Carolina truck accident may well have been precipitated by the fact that the truck itself lacked properly working brakes, among other problems. The driver has been charged with two misdemeanors – death by motor vehicle and failure to reduce speed.

Investigators say the dump truck in question was pulling a load of logs and pulling a trailer with a nearly 10,000-pound Bobcat loader. 

When troopers inspected the truck following the collision, they discovered a host of violations that could well have contributed to this fatal truck accident.

To start, the electric brakes were not working, authorities concluded, because they were not even wired to the truck.

Beyond that, the logs that were loaded up in the dump truck had not been secured.

In looking at the Bobcat on top of the trailer, investigators found that the chain used to secure it was not as strong as is required under federal law. Crash reconstructionists say at the time of the crash, the chain actually snapped and the Bobcat slipped forward into the bed of the truck.

Meanwhile, the emergency breakaway system, which is needed to immediately halt the trailer by pressing the brakes if gets detached, failed to function because the battery was missing.

The truck also had a tire that was so severely damaged, the belt was fully exposed. Finally, the truck had no fire extinguisher.

The owner of the truck was fined less than $1,000 for these violations. It’s worth pointing out that the cost to pay that fine is less than what it would cost to fix all these issues, which very clearly results in a situation where truck companies have an incentive NOT to fix serious problems, and instead simply pay the fine and consider it a cost of doing business. But meanwhile, that puts innocent lives in jeopardy.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency responsible for establishing truck regulations, which can be enforced by the state highway patrol. These regulations cover everything from exhaust systems to tires to inspections and so much more.

National truck safety advocates have spoken out to say that these violations were “egregious.” The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance director of vehicle programs was quoted in the Raleigh News & Observer as saying the truck company’s alleged lapses in safety were “extremely irresponsible.” Specifically, the issue of non-functioning brakes was problematic. If the trailer had functioning brakes, the vehicle could have at least slowed to a reduced speed that may have resulted in a less forceful impact – which possibly would have saved the victim’s life.

Truck company owner has said the driver of the truck never tried to stop. He insists the brakes were working, but they were damaged in the crash. He refutes the report that the Bobcat wasn’t secured properly, saying the alleged violations had nothing to do with the accident.

“It happened because he never hit the brakes,” the owner said.

However, an investigating trooper reported an 84-foot skid mark near the crash site. In a later interview, the trooper then said it could have been something else because the mark was no longer visible the next day.

This will undoubtedly be a complex wrongful death case. Only an experienced civil litigator should be trusted to take it on.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Truck in fatal Wake Forest crash was pulling a heavy trailer without working brakes, May 30, 2016, By Bruce Siceloff, NewsObserver.com

More Blog Entries:

N.C. Texting Driver Blamed for Mother’s Death and Family’s Injuries, June 15, 2016, Carolina Truck Accident Attorney Blog

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