Florida residents may be alarmed to learn that more than 12% of the semi-tractor trailers inspected during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Brake Safety Day were ordered out of service because their braking systems were poorly maintained or defective and posed a threat to other road users. The unannounced safety crackdown was held in the United States, Canada and Mexico on May 26. Brake Safety Day took place just three weeks after the CVSA’s annual International Roadcheck safety initiative. During the three-day safety blitz, more than 2,500 of the approximately 6,700 tractor-trailers taken out of service because of safety issues were pulled off the road because of braking system violations.
A persistent problem
The results of these safety efforts have drawn more attention to a problem that causes hundreds of motor vehicle accidents each year and has long been a concern for road safety advocates. Semi-tractor trailers can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, and even small air leaks can make their sophisticated pneumatic braking systems far less effective. Checking air lines and hoses is something truck drivers are expected to do before every trip, but it is a time-consuming process that is often ignored. According to industry experts, most of the violations that led to out-of-service orders on Brake Safety Day and during the International Roadcheck would have been detected if truck drivers had performed proper pre-trip safety checks.
Trucking companies and truck drivers may conduct less than rigorous pre-trip inspections because serious pneumatic braking system problems must be repaired by skilled brake technicians. Proper repairs can take several days to complete, which is an issue in an industry known for its tight schedules and thin margins.
Truck accident lawsuits
The kind of inspections conducted during CVSA safety blitzes are also performed by accident investigators when tractor-trailers are involved in crashes that cause death or serious injury. The results of these inspections might be used to establish negligence in truck accident lawsuits when they reveal that repairs were made with defective parts or that safety issues were caused by poor maintenance.