Elyria, Ohio – On a single day this past May, nearly 1,700 commercial vehicles were taken off the roads of North America due to brake system safety violations: Consider for a moment if just half of those – or a quarter, or even just one – had been unable to stop in a critical situation because of a brake system that wasn’t in good operating condition. That kind of moment is exactly why Bendix (Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC) works to help fleets and owner-operators prepare for events like Brake Safety Week 2019, which will take place Sept. 15-21.
Part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Airbrake, Brake Safety Week is an outreach and enforcement campaign that aims to reduce the number of crashes caused or made more severe by faulty brake systems on commercial motor vehicles. Inspections on large trucks and buses will be conducted by local, state, provincial, territorial, and federal motor carrier safety officials in the United States and Canada. Bendix, the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles, supports the CVSA’s goals of improving vehicle safety throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
“What’s at stake is more than just avoiding non-compliance penalties and out-of-service time – although those are certainly of importance,” said Barbara Gould, Bendix director – corporate communications. “The most important reason we stress preparation for inspection periods like Brake Safety Week is because drivers need to be able to depend on their brakes every moment of every mile. And even as advanced safety technologies like full stability and collision mitigation enhance a vehicle, those systems still require brakes in good working condition to support drivers and perform at their best.”
Be Ready before You Hit the Road
Back on May 15, during an unannounced inspection blitz in the United States and Canada, CVSA law enforcement members conducted 10,358 commercial motor vehicle inspections focused on identifying brake system violations. Of those vehicles inspected, 1,667 (16.1 percent) were placed out of service due to critical brake-related violations. This year’s Brake Safety Week includes a special focus on brake hoses/tubing. May’s inspections found 1,125 violations that included chafed hoses, and 124 that included kinked hoses. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) data for the first half of 2019, brake hose or tubing chafing and/or kinking accounted for nearly 38,000 inspection violations.
“Hoses and tubing affect the performance of an entire braking system, so it’s important that they’re in good shape and free of kinks,” said Brian Screeton, Bendix supervisor – technical service training. “Checking their condition, positioning, and connections should be a regular part of any visual inspection, both during pre-trip walkarounds and in the shop. Additionally, we recommend that every driver makes performing regular 90- to 100-psi brake applications and listening for leaks part of their preparation before getting on the road.”
Other pre-trip and preventive maintenance items directly related to Brake Safety Week inspections include:
- Daily visual checks for damaged or loose-hanging air chambers, pushrods, or slack adjusters. (Note that slack adjusters on each axle should be extended out to the same angle: If not, it could indicate an out-of-adjustment brake or a broken spring brake power spring.)
- Weekly checks of air disc brake rotors for cracks, and lining wear on drum brakes.
- Monthly checks for moisture in the air system. (Contamination can lead to deterioration of air seals, brake-modulating valves, and brake chamber diaphragms – leading to system leaks.)
- Regular greasing of S-cam brake tubes and automatic slack adjusters to prevent rust and corrosion.