Tractor-Trailer Hitches Recalled After Fatal Accident

Fontaine Fifth Wheel of Trussville has announced a recall of over 6,000 of the company’s trailer hitches in response to an investigation opened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

About the Trailer Hitch Recall

According to the company, the locking mechanisms of the hitches can be damaged over time if “proper coupling and maintenance procedures” are not followed. This damage can cause the hitch lock to malfunction.

Description of Recalled Hitches

  • The recall affects tractor-trailer hitches sold by Fontaine Fifth Wheel of Trussville.
  • Recalled hitches were not produced after 2013.
  • Hitches were sold to Daimler, Volvo, Mack, Navistar, Kenworth and the Peterbilt trucking companies.
Incidents and Investigation

The recalled hitch was involved in a 2014 Ohio accident in which a 12-ton semi truck’s trailer became unsecured from its tractor and entered oncoming traffic. This incident resulted in the deaths of two people, and the driver being charged with negligent homicide.

According ABC News, NHTSA opened an investigation into the company’s hitches about half a year after the incident.

Fontaine contends that the hitches are not defective when properly used and that the recall was announced “in the interest of bringing a timely and efficient resolution to this issue.”

The NHTSA investigation is still ongoing despite the recall.

Tractor-Trailer Incident Statistics

The following information was provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Accident fatalities involving large trucks have increased by 4% since 2011.
  • Over 100,000 people suffered injuries in crashes involving large trucks in 2012.
  • In 2012, large trucks were more likely to be involved in fatal multi-vehicle crashes than passenger vehicles.
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