What do you think the most important operating component of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is? Although there are many, the most important one is the part that makes the equipment stop - the brakes!!!!! It is critical that brakes operate properly at all times to ensure maximum safety. The braking system on CMV’s is designed for tough conditions, but like anything, it must be inspected and maintained carefully and consistently. By doing this, the brake system will operate properly throughout the life of the truck.
Brake Safety Week was established in 1998 as an annual outreach and enforcement campaign with the goal of improving CMV brake safety and awareness throughout North America. More than 3.4 million brakes have been inspected since the program’s inception.
Brake Safety Week, which is part of the Operation Airbrake program, will be held August 22-28, 2021. It is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). During this week-long safety campaign, CMV inspectors will focus on conducting roadside brake system inspections on CMV’s to identify out-of-adjustment brakes and brake system violations.
Why is Brake Safety Week necessary? Brake related violations are the largest percentage of all out-of-service violations cited during roadside inspections. In the 2020 inspection, brake system and brake adjustment violations accounted for more violations than any other vehicle violation category, accounting for 38.6% of all vehicle out-of-service conditions over the 3-day period. Brake systems that are improperly installed or maintained can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of CMV’s, thus posing a serious risk to the driver and the general public.
The following is typically inspected during Brake Safety Week:
- Inspection of brake system components to identify:
- loose or missing parts
- air or hydraulic fluid leaks
- worn linings, hoses, pads, drums or rotors,
- and other faulty brake-system components.
- Antilock braking systems (ABS) malfunction indicator lamps are also checked on the cab dash.
Defective or out-of-adjustment brakes will result in the vehicle being placed out of service and subsequent violation.
What should a motor carrier do to have a successful Brake Safety Week?
When doing in-house maintenance, you must ensure that your technicians are certified to inspect and repair the components of the brake system both drum and disk per 49CFR – Part 396.25 “Brake Inspector Qualifications” Form 508.
In 2019 and 2020 inspectors reported severe levels of break hose chaffing and kinking violations during the inspection. The chart produced by CVSA showing the severity of chaffing from 1 to 5 along with what would constitute an out-of-service violation.
Therefore, ensure that technicians are checking for any signs of chaffing or kinking when performing scheduled maintenance. Just because it is not an Out of Service violation, does not mean that it should it be ignored.
Motor carriers should also ensure that their drivers are completing inspections on their CMV’s daily for each vehicle operated per the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations Part 396. Any deficiencies should be documented during the driver’s inspection and repaired prior to going on the road. In regard to the braking system, the driver can listen for audible air leaks, check low air signals and look for component damage.
As for ABS equipped CMVs, a properly functioning ABS malfunction lamp on the dash will turn on and then off when power is supplied to the unit. If the ABS lamp does not illuminate at all, you likely have a malfunctioning system. Also, if the ABS lamp illuminates and stays on, it is another indication of a problem that must be checked and corrected. Either way, both of these conditions indicate an ABS system problem and will be documented as violations during a roadside inspection.
Since out of adjustment brakes and brake system violations represent almost half of all out-of-service violations issued to CMV’s on the road, it is critical that attention is taken to ensure that brake systems are properly installed, inspected and maintained. These actions will improve CMV safety by reducing the number of highway crashes.
Need more information on Brake Safety Week: August 22-28, 2021? It can be found via the CVSA link below.