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Inadequate Maintenance: A Major Contributor to Truck Accidents


In 2009, a California judge threw out murder charges against a truck driver who had caused a multiple-vehicle wreck that led to two deaths. The case serves as an important reminder about truck safety on the road, explains a California truck accident attorney.

On April 1, 2009, a long-haul truck driver named Marcos Barbosa Costa was driving down Angeles Crest Highway in California when the brakes gave out. The double-decker car-hauling truck that Costa was driving careened down the road and struck a car near the Foothill (210) Freeway. In the car were Angelina Posca and her father Angel Jorge Posca; they were killed when their vehicle was pushed 200 yards into an intersection. The truck also struck four other vehicles and smashed through both a coffee shop and a book store.

Following the accident, Costa was charged with two counts of murder, reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter. However, a judge subsequently threw out the murder charges because there was insufficient evidence to show that Costa intended to kill the victims.

Large trucks such as the one driven by Costa can cause serious damage in an accident due to their weight and size. As such, it is extremely important that such trucks are driven carefully and that they are maintained properly so that all parts of the truck perform optimally.

In order to ensure that trucks are maintained in a safe manner, the California Vehicle code imposes strict requirements on certain vehicles and owners of certain vehicles. The vehicles covered by these requirements are identified in California Vehicle Code section 34500 and include, among others, motor trucks with three or more axles that weigh 10,000 or more pounds; truck tractors; buses and school buses; trailers or semitrailers designed to transport ten or more people or tow cars; trucks or vehicles transporting hazardous material; certain manufactured homes and park trailers; and commercial vehicles with a weight of 26,000 pounds.

The requirements imposed on truck owners or operators are extensive and cover all aspects of truck driving, including the maximum drive time (CA Vehicle Code section 34501.2; a requirement that employers keep log books and records of physical exams (CA Vehicle Code section 34501.10); and a mandate for systematic inspections and maintenance (CA Vehicle code section 34505.5).

These requirements are specific in what a trucking company/owner must inspect. The inspection must include a brake adjustment as well as inspections of the brake system components (including checking for leaks); the steering and suspension system; the tires and wheels; and vehicle connecting devices. The records of the inspection must be kept for at least two years by the motor carrier and are subject to inspection by authorized employees of the California Department of Transportation.

The laws on truck maintenance are safety laws designed to ensure that accidents like the one involving Costa and the Poscas do not happen. Unfortunately, sometimes the laws are broken or maintenance is not performed as required and tragedy occurs. In such cases, the laws do at least provide victims with a means to seek compensation for their injury or loss from the party at fault for the accident.

If you would like to request a free book or article, or to speak with a California truck accident attorney, feel free to call 866-981-5596.

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