Highway crashes bring commercial truck hazards to forefront


Three crashes involving commercial trucks in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the past nine months have highway drivers afraid and transportation safety experts angry over improper vehicle inspections.

All three crashes involved a leaf spring, a part of a truck’s suspension system that helps spread the weight of the load over the vehicle’s chassis and keep the tires in contact with the road.

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In the first road collision, an 11-pound leaf spring crashed through driver Holly Dunn’s windshield near Fort Worth, severed her ear canal and left a hole in her skull. Roughly six months later, a 32-year-old man driving in Garland suffered severe injuries after a leaf spring hit him in the head.

The man survived his injuries, unlike mother Tina Reese when traveling to her daughter’s volleyball game. Reese was behind a commercial 18-wheeler on I-377 in Denton a few days earlier, according to witnesses. A truck’s leaf spring flew through Reese’s vehicle windshield and fatally struck her in the head.

Trucking safety hazards

U.S. Department of Transportation data shows one of five trucks is removed from service in Texas. Among the primary vehicle defects leading to accidents are:

  • Leaf springs: Typical leaf spring safety recommendations include measuring the truck’s ride height and tightening U-bolt nuts regularly. Yet, experts believe truck drivers often ignore proper maintenance, raising the risk of accidents. Truck accident investigator Lee Jackson called Reese’s crash likely avoidable, saying a crack in a leaf spring “occurs over the course of time, not just in an instant when a load is put on a truck.”
  • Brakes: Federal law requires truck drivers to inspect their brakes before and after trips. But a nearly two-year study of 407 trucks involved in fatal crashes found 32.7 percent had brake violations before the crash. Of the 77 collisions in which truck braking was a critical factor, 45.5 percent had pre-crash brake violations.
  • Drive shaft: A drive shaft transfers torque, or rotational force, from a truck’s engine to an axle. Safety experts recommend regular lubrication and inspections to check for gaps, loose bolts and nuts and other problems. Recently, a truck driver was driving in Coke County when the drive shaft of another truck crashed through his windshield, crushing his elbow, tearing his spleen and stomach wall and fracturing his spine and ribs. Slack & Davis, which represented the injured driver, believes a failure to inspect the drive shaft and repair defects led to the injuries (Pagano v. Window Operating Co.)

For more than 20 years, Slack & Davis has won complex trucking collision cases. Our vehicle accident lawyers have successfully litigated hundreds of cases involving life-altering injuries and wrongful death from trucking accidents. For more insight into the events that cause such crashes and the law options available to you, contact Slack & Davis’ legal team.