Semi Truck Load and Equipment Inspection
Anyone who has driven on interstate is aware of the significant wear and tear that occurs as the miles of road unfold. Tires can lose their tread, windshields can become chipped or cracked, objects can shift and move, lights can go out, cargo straps to loosen, not to mention the extensive number of things that can go wrong under the hood.
This is the logic behind sections 392.7, 392.8, and 392.9. These three sections address the nature and frequency of inspections that are required for general equipment, emergency equipment, and cargo.
49 CFR 392.7 - Equipment, inspection and use.
Equipment failure may not be an excuse, or at least legal defense, for a truck accident case. Section 392.7 states that no commercial vehicle (semi truck, big rig, 18 wheeler, bus, delivery vehicle, etc....) shall be driven if the driver is not satisfied with the operation of service breaks, parking brakes, steering, lighting reflectors, tires, horns, windshield wipers, side mirrors, rear view mirrors, and coupling devices. As a result, any truck accident should be investigated to determine whether or not the driver properly examined, or ever complained of, any of these elements.
For example, if a semitruck driver complains about the outdated tires, or broken reflectors on the rig he or she is forced to drive, and nothing is done about it, then this could be the basis for a claim that the mandatory federal regulations or ignored resulting in an accident.
In addition, it is not enough for a driver to simply say that they were unaware that their equipment may not of been functioning properly. Section 392.7 states that any driver who operates a commercial vehicle is deemed to have confirmed that the following items were in good working order when they began operating the vehicle: certain braking components, lighting devices, wheels, rims, tires, hoses and couplers, tiedown bolsters, books, frame locks, and rails. Just by virtue of pulling out onto a road, a semi truck driver is deemed to have inspected and approved the operation of any such devices.
49 CFR 392.8 - Emergency equipment, inspection and use.
While much of the equipment and inspection regulations are covered in section 392.7, 392.8 applies specifically to emergency equipment and states that no commercial vehicle shall be driven unless the driver is satisfied with the working order of all emergency equipment. Section 393.95 states that such emergency equipment includes fire extinguishers, spare fuses, warning devices for stopped vehicles (at least three reflective triangles, at least six fusees or three liquid burning flares) , and red flags.
Perhaps more important, section 392.8 also states that when needed, no semitruck driver shall fail to use such emergency equipment. This means that in the event an accident occurs because a semi truck installed on the road without appropriate warning devices, then other motorists could potentially have a claim if they happen to collide with the semitruck.