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The DOT Doctor Speaks
Tuesday, August 25 2015
Poor Maintenance Leads to $2.6M Lawsuit Settlement with Swift

Poor trailer maintenance and lack of a good PM program can lead to tragedy.  When drivers have to force tandems to slide; trouble is invited.  Drivers often use the “wiggle” system to slide stuck tandems.  To do so, one driver will push and pull on the slider while another is behind the wheel rocking the unit.  This is what seems to have occurred in this situation.  If one of the drivers “slip”; major injury can occur.   Using a trainee/trainer team, which is the norm for Swift, it is highly likely this is exactly what happened.  Hence, poor maintenance is to blame.

Sliding a fifth wheel or fixing a “jumped” fifth wheel can result in similar tragedy.  Years back a young man and his trainer were trying to fix a fifth wheel that was jumped.  The trainer had the trainee hold a crowbar under the fifth wheel while he drove the truck forward.   As you can image, it kicked.  The crowbar flew and hit the young man in the jaw busting it in multiple places.  Again, a situation that could have been avoided.

With all the technology we have available today, there has to be a better way to slide axles and fifth wheels than doing so manually.  I recall air slide and other assist mechanisms for fifth wheels.  Payne out of VA ran trucks with these on them as did many other fleets.  The cost of the upgrade well out weighted the cost of a w/c claim or worse a lawsuit.   There are push button landing gear and I recall some type of air slider for the tandems.  These items should become standard gear for trucks instead of fleet options.

In the meantime, how about a decent PM program?  Companies know when these trailers do not slide properly.  The drivers complain about them enough!  Some even write them up on their PTIs.  Stop ignoring them and address the issue.  Dispatchers that order drivers to “make it happen” when you report that they cannot be slid are also part of the problem.  There is no call for a driver to have to put themselves in harm’s way just to get the job done!

The rest of the story -

Posted by: The DOT Doctor AT 05:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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