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Agency investigates truck hitch after semi-truck crash

Large trucks are a major concern for drivers in Cincinnati and throughout the state. These vehicles are massive, often travel at a high rate of speed and the drivers are on the road for an extended period of time increasing the potential for a crash due to fatigue. Another possible cause of a trucking accident might be a defect in the truck itself. This factor is receiving renewed attention in the aftermath of an accident in Cincinnati from 2014.

In the accident in question, the trailer from the truck came loose and hit other vehicles. One pickup truck was hit on the side and another car was hit head-on. Both of the drivers of those vehicles were killed. The investigation focused on the hitch not being properly secured, but now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering the possibility of a defect in the hitch itself. The NHTSA is looking into the rate of separations for that particular hitch known as the "Ultra LT." It is manufactured by Fontaine Fifth Wheel, a company located in another state.

This piece of equipment is prominently utilized and could be on approximately 6,000 trucks. With the time lapse between the initial accident in January 2014 and the current investigation, questions are surfacing as to why there wasn't an earlier focus on the possibility of a fault with the hitch. The investigation commenced after the company stated it wanted to replace the hitches that are in circulation because of "non-safety" issues. These hitches were investigated previously with 12 complaints and one accident in which no one was hurt. The company made a change to the design to avoid problems with a bar that pins the trailer to the tractor.

After the crash in Cincinnati, the company stated that it wanted to replace the hitches. The driver had trouble locking the hitch several times before it finally locked. He still felt concern prior to the crash. The investigation moved forward after the company decided on replacements for the hitches. Considering the nature of these kinds of accidents, those who are involved in a semi-truck crash and were hurt or lost a loved one need to know how to pursue compensation from the truck company or the manufacturer of the defective parts.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Tractor-Trailer Hitches Being Investigated After Ohio Crash," Tom Krisher and Dan Sewell, July 6, 2015

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