NHTSA Investigates Trucks for Potential Safety Defects
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened two recall investigations for certain Freightliner Cascadia trucks. According to a report on Land Line, one of the recalls deals with a steering defect and another affects the wiper motor. These two investigations involve nearly 250,000 trucks.
Steering Defect Caused Two Deaths
The first issue involving the steering defects affects an estimated 50,000 2016-2017 Cascadia trucks. NHTSA documents show that the cap screws, which secure the lower steering arm to the steering knuckle on the tie rod, may fail without warning. One crash that resulted in two deaths has been reported as a result of this defect. In September 2015, Daimler Trucks North America issued a similar recall for 2016 Freightliner Cascadia and several other models totaling 11,000 trucks. In that recall, the axles were built in Mexico with insufficient torque applied to steering arm cap screws.
According to NHTSA, only 62 percent of the affected trucks have been repaired for the defects to date. On October 23, 2016, a 2017 Cascadia truck was involved in a crash where both the driver and co-driver were killed along the Interstate 57 in Illinois. An investigation into that accident found that steering linkage separation occurred “at the lower steering arm cap screws on the driver side.” NHTSA is also looking into whether more trucks should have been included in that 2015 recall.
Wiper Motor Issues
In a separate probe, NHTSA is looking into a wiper defect, which is believed to affect nearly 200,000 2015-2016 Cascadia trucks. In these vehicles, the wiper motor intermittently stops operating causing loss of visibility while driving and increasing the risk of a crash. Field reports indicate that a number of trucks were affected with some trucks experiencing loss of vision multiple times. In one case, the wipers stopped working when the driver switched wiper speed during a rainstorm. As a result of the loss of visibility while driving, the driver crashed into an embankment.
The Danger of Truck Accidents
While cases involving truck driver negligence often get a lot of attention, the danger of truck accidents caused by defective vehicle parts cannot be minimized. The issues NHTSA is looking into here are cause for deep concern since they have already shown the potential for serious crashes that could result in deaths and catastrophic injuries. While these defects have not yet affected people in other vehicles, we know the potential for devastation when it comes to large truck accidents.