Chicago, IL- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration, mechanical failure and fault equipment is the leading cause of the approximately 500,000 truck accidents that occur in the U.S. each year. A recent accident, which occurred last month in Illinois, shows just how important it is for truck drivers and trucking companies to assure their vehicles are properly maintained and in safe operating condition before they hit the road.

The accident took place last week in Southern Illinois and involved two truck drivers. According to the state police, William Herschel Rigsby, 61, was stopped on U.S. 45 in rural Gallatin County when the tire from a passing tractor-trailer flew off and struck his trailer, according to the Evansville Courier Express.

Upon impact, Rigsby’s truck was engulfed in flames, then left the roadway and slammed into a tree. Rigsby was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the truck that lost a wheel was identified as Thomas E. Woodworth, who refused treatment at the scene. After an investigation, police discovered his CDL was expired and he was cited for cited for driving with a cancelled CDL, failure to secure a new CDL, and operating with loose fasteners (lug nuts).

It’s hard to imagine a loose lug nut could lead to such a devastating accident, but it happens. Such a small thing cost a man his life and led to extensive property damage.

The most experienced truck driver with a stellar safety record cannot prevent a deadly or injurious accident if they experience a mechanical issue or their equipment fails. Tractor-trailers and other commercial trucks are very complex machines so it’s easy for something to go wrong. As this accident shows something as simple as a loose lug nut can have dire consequences.

A Fatal Causation Study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration between 2001 and 2003 found that 55 percent of trucks involved in accidents that resulted in injury had at least one mechanical failure. Even worse, the study found that 30 percent of trucks had a least one service equipment issue that should have put them out of service.

Brake failure is the most the most commonly cited cause of equipment failure truck accidents. Other common mechanical failures include: improperly inflated or worn tires, defective or missing safety equipment such as underride rails, improperly functioning or defective lights turn signals, overall poor maintenance and transmission failure.

Neglecting to do something as simple as tightening a lug or have more complex repairs done may save truck owner money at the time, but in the long run failing to takes these steps can be very costly in the long run if truck accident results from their negligence.

When there is a reasonable suspension that equipment failure caused fatal or injurious accident, the victims need the assistance of a Chicago truck accident attorney. A skilled truck accident attorney is capable of securing a substantial settlement on their client’s behalf.