The One Essential of Large Truck Safety


September 6, 2017 / Truck Accidents

It doesn’t get much more basic on any vehicle than brakes. The gas pedal and transmission may move a vehicle forward or backward, but only the brakes have the potential to stop you when you really need to do so. Because of a large truck’s size and weight, the braking system is even more critical than it is with a passenger vehicle. It can take a substantial distance to stop a semi, even with brakes that work well. And if the brakes stop working altogether . . . well, perhaps you’ve seen the “runaway truck” ramps meant for the unfortunate drivers in such a situation.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) held surprise Brake Safety Day inspections during May, 2017. Almost 10,000 commercial vehicles were inspected, with the end result being that more than 1 in 5 of those commercial vehicles were taken off the road. That’s a sobering statistic.

The Operation Airbrake Program

On May 3, 2017, CVSA’s Operation Airbrake Program was put into effect for the day, with 9,524 roadside inspections performed in 33 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Of these commercial vehicles, 1,989 of them were tagged with violations that took them out of service, or slightly over 20 percent of all vehicles inspected.

However, the biggest reason for the unexpected inspection day was to find antilock braking system (ABS) and out-of-adjustment brake violations in commercial vehicles. Around 12 percent of all inspections, or 1,146 vehicles, were placed out of service because of critical violations.

It’s important to note that a CVSA out-of-service order can vary from the inspection requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. While the two situations can be similar, technical differences exist. Generally, a vehicle is placed out-of-service only when it is so unsafe that an accident could be considered likely. During the May 3 inspections, it means that roughly 1 in 8 commercial vehicles had braking systems unsafe enough that an accident was a real possibility.

With regard to the brake safety inspections, the CVSA stated, “Improperly installed or poorly maintained brake systems can reduce the braking capability and increase stopping distance of trucks and buses, which poses a serious risk to driver and public safety.”

Reasons for Inspection Failures

What types of brake problems can result in a brake inspection failure? Some of the more common reasons are:

  • Brake linings or pads are thinner than allowed by FMCSA regulations.
  • Brake drums are worn beyond the drum manufacturer’s specified limits.
  • The brake tube or air hose is crimped, cracked, or broken.
  • Brake pads or linings are coated with brake fluid, oil, or grease.
  • The vehicle has air brakes but lacks an automatic slack adjuster or self-adjusting brakes.
  • The light indicating an ABS malfunction does not work.

The May inspection was the last surprise one of the year. The next Brake Safety Day is scheduled for September 7, 2017.

When others breach their duty, we keep ours.

Indiana truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the financial burdens caused by overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, whether empty, full, or involving only the tractor portion of the truck, we suggest you talk with Indianapolis truck accident lawyer Mike Stephenson. With more than three decades of experience, substantial financial resources to commit to your case, and a commitment to the highest standards of client care, you can count on Mike. Contact him today by calling 1-317-825-5200 for a free accident consultation, or use our online contact form. At Stephenson Rife, we believe justice matters.

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