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Truckers, Are Your Brakes Inspection Ready?


Miss Unsafe Brakes, 1939, appeared at the Chicago Auto Show dressed in a skeleton costume, to drive home the importance of brake safety. Since then, automakers have added safety features such as seat belts, headrests and shatter-resistant windshields.

WASHINGTON, DC — Thirty-thousand brakes will be inspected on trucks across North America this week, and not all will pass.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are holding the annual Brake Safety Week enforcement campaign from September 7 through September 13.

During the campaign commercial motor vehicle inspectors will conduct brake system inspections, primarily Level IV inspections, on trucks and buses throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico to identify out-of-adjustment brakes and brake-system violations.

Brake-related violations make up the largest percentage (almost half) of all out-of-service violations cited during roadside inspections, according to CVSA.

Brake inspections conducted during Brake Safety Week include inspection of:

  • Brake-system components to identify loose or missing parts;
  • Air or hydraulic fluid leaks;
  • Worn linings, pads, drums or rotors;
  • Other faulty brake-system components;
  • Antilock braking systems malfunction indicator lamps.

Inspectors will inspect brake components and measure pushrod stroke when appropriate. Defective or out-of-adjustment brakes will result in the vehicle being placed out of service.

Additional inspections may include some Level I Inspections and, in 10 participating jurisdictions, overall vehicle braking efficiency will be tested using performance-based brake testing equipment. These systems include a slow speed roller dynamometer that measure total vehicle weight and total brake force, from which braking efficiency is calculated. 

Bendix offers some advice to carriers:

  • Protect the vehicle’s air system from contamination; it’s crucial to maintaining a safe and effective air brake system;
  • "Oil, in particular, can be very harmful to an air system, contributing to premature damage in a variety of components such as spring brake modulating valves and brake chamber diaphragms. And oil-deteriorated seals can cause air system leaks – a target of Operation Air Brake inspections," said Gary Ganaway, director of marketing and global customer solutions for Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC Ganaway.
  • Pay attention to the issue of replacement brake lining performance and Reduced Stopping Distance (RSD) compliance;
  • “Not all replacement friction marketed as acceptable under RSD will actually perform to the standard, [so] fleets should ask for evidence of compliance from their friction supplier when replacing the friction on their RSD-equipped trucks,” Ganaway said.

And if you're brake systems are in working order, you can also read owner-operator Dan Dickey's blog on not using your brakes.

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