AVON, Ohio – Imagine a convoy of 5,059 trucks on the highway. Quite a sight, right? That’s how many vehicles were placed out of service during last year’s Brake Safety Week. Those trucks represented 13.3% of the 38,117 commercial motor vehicles inspected across the United States, Canada, and Mexico during the annual weeklong event run by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).
The 2023 Brake Safety Week happens August 20-26. As it approaches, the team at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC offers practical tips for being prepared, staying safe, and passing inspection.
“Out-of-service violations are situations that present actual hazards to roadway safety for the drivers and everyone around them – and so many of these violations are preventable through proper maintenance practices and regular equipment examination,” said Fred Andersky, Bendix director – demos, sales, and service training. “Brake Safety Week is an industry touchpoint for good reason: What goes on at the wheel-ends and in the braking system is critical to so many aspects of safe vehicle operation, including optimal performance of today’s higher-level safety systems like full stability and collision mitigation. You simply can’t overstate the importance of keeping up with maintenance and inspection of those areas.”
Brake Safety Week is part of CVSA’s Operation Airbrake initiative – an outreach and enforcement campaign that aims to reduce the number of highway crashes caused by faulty brake systems on commercial motor vehicles. The event involves local, state, provincial, territorial, and federal motor carrier safety officials in the United States, Canada, and Mexico inspecting large trucks and buses, focusing on brake system violations.
What to Expect
Brake Safety Week roadside inspectors conduct North American Standard Inspections, which cover a range of driver qualifications, documentation, and vehicle equipment conditions. They’ll be checking for:
- Missing, nonfunctioning, loose, or cracked parts
- Holes caused by rust and through rubbing or friction
- Broken springs in the spring brake housing section of the parking brake
- Air leaks around brake components and lines
- Air pressure in the target range of 90-100 psi
- Proper pushrod travel
- Slack adjusters not at the same length
- Mismatched air chamber sizes across axles
- Warning device functionality (such as antilock braking system indicator lights)
- Proper operation of the tractor protection system, including the bleed-back system on the trailer
- The breakaway system being operable on the trailer
Inspectors will also keep a special eye out for contaminated, worn, cracked, and missing linings or pads – the focus of this year’s Brake Safety Week.
How to Get Ready
“What you do in the shop and during pre-trip walk-arounds – looking at every aspect of your vehicle – can make an important difference on the road and during a brake system inspection, simply by catching brake-related issues before they become problems,” said Mark Holley, Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions, Wheel-End. “Your regular inspections can go a long way toward catching some obvious violations, including loose hoses or damaged components like air chambers or pushrods.” He recommends the following:
- Check for damaged or loose-hanging air chambers, pushrods, or slack adjusters.
- Make sure slack adjusters on each axle are extended out to the same angle. Different angles can indicate an out-of-adjustment brake or a broken spring brake power spring.
- Examine tubing and hose condition, positioning, and connections.
- Perform a 90- to 100-psi brake application with the wheels chocked and the parking brakes released, and listen for leaks.
- Check air disc brake rotors for cracks.
- Inspect drum brake linings for wear and cracks.
- Check for moisture in the air system to prevent contamination that leads to component deterioration and system leaks.
Any time you’ve got a vehicle in the shop, it’s also worth greasing the S-cam brake tubes and automatic slack adjusters. This quick process helps prevent rust and corrosion, and it helps keep the slack functioning properly.