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Outside Seattle last week, a wheel assembly came off a tractor trailer while it was moving, bounded over the median, and smashed into the windshield of a minivan going in the other direction.

The front seat passenger of the minivan was killed instantly. An inspection of the tractor trailer after the accident showed that the brake system to the trailer had come apart.

Before going out on the road, drivers of tractor trailers are required to inpsect the brake system and to test their brakes. If there was a defect in the braking system, this should have been detected by the driver. Since many drivers transport trailers that they do not work with on a daily basis, the owner of the trailer also bears some responsibility for failing to ensure that it received adequate maintenance.

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