Air Brake Safety Week calls attention to necessary truck maintenance

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, an international non-profit organization consisting of government motor carrier safety officials and representatives from the commercial trucking industry, called attention to the importance of maintaining commercial vehicles' air brake systems with "Operation Air Brake" September 8-13, 2013. The annual safety campaign aims at increasing air brake safety throughout the commercial trucking industry in North America and reducing the number of motor vehicle accident fatalities attributable to brake failure.

"Operation Air Brake"

"Operation Air Brake," or Air Brake Safety Week, began as a safety initiative in Canada in 1998 and spread across the rest of North America in later years. Safety inspectors use a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program that officials have employed when targeting other safety concerns in the commercial trucking industry. Safety inspectors conduct random roadside inspections of commercial vehicles, looking at the commercial vehicle's:

  • Driver's license.
  • Registration.
  • Brake linings and drums.
  • Tractor protector system.
  • Leaks and air loss rate.
  • Low air warning device.
  • Pushrod travel.

Officials also hope to educate drivers about the importance of keeping their brakes in good working order by meeting with drivers in areas where they congregate and disseminating educational brochures.

Brake failures in commercial vehicles

In Air Brake Safety Week in 2012, CVSA inspectors conducted 20,206 inspections. Inspectors put 15.5 percent of the vehicles they examined out of commission for brake failure. The number of trucks that have faulty brakes shows how serious of a safety threat poorly maintained air brakes are. The CVSA argues that it takes only a few minutes for drivers to check their brakes to make sure they are working properly, but many drivers do not do so because they lack the knowledge to inspect their brakes or simply are not prioritizing safety. Such attitudes lead to motor vehicle accidents.

According to the CVSA, brake system defects and out-of-adjustment air brakes are the largest defect area that causes commercial vehicles to be out of commission. The CVSA notes that even under perfect conditions a large commercial vehicle requires twice the stopping distance of a passenger vehicle. When a commercial vehicle's air brakes are poorly adjusted or defective, it takes even longer for a commercial vehicle to stop. Poorly maintained air brakes increase the chances of truck accidents.

Speak with an attorney

When trucking companies do not ensure that their drivers know how to check air brake systems, or the truck drivers simply forego checking their brakes, they put other drivers' lives at risk. Trucking companies and truck drivers have a duty to maintain their vehicles in good working order, and when they fail to meet that duty they need to be held accountable for the damage they do. If you have been injured in an auto accident involving a commercial vehicle, speak with a skilled attorney who can review your case to see if you have a claim against the driver and possibly the trucking company, as well.