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The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Brake Safety Week is next week. Five months after the surprise Brake Safety Day in April, which rendered 1,600, or 14% of all who were stopped, commercial motor vehicles out-of-service for failing their brake check inspections, the CVSA is ramping up for another roadside event across the U.S. 

According to the FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, 32.7% of large trucks with pre-crash violations had brake problems. To prevent more collisions resulting from this preventable issue, enforcement personnel will conduct the North American Standard Level 1 inspection (a 37-step procedure) across the U.S. from September 16 through September 20 with the goal of removing vehicles with critical violations from the road and calling attention to the dangers of faulty brake systems. 

Before hitting the roads next week, here are three tips to prepare your fleet to ace the upcoming inspections, keeping vehicles on the roads and improving -safety for everyone.

1. Teach drivers DIY inspection basics   

Many brake violations that caused vehicles to be pulled off the roads during Brake Safety Day in April were easily preventable, but no one had caught them prior to the surprise inspection. The fact is, there simply aren’t enough brake technicians or mechanics to perform a full, daily inspection on every truck that heads into the field. Worse yet, even if they did, the CVSA found many of these technicians aren’t up-to-date with maintenance best practices. One way to solve this challenge is to train drivers on brake check basics. Teaching truckers how to visually inspect their own brakes to identify key problems is a practice that could improve brake health over time since early awareness leads to catching problems before they get out of hand and cause equipment failure. 

Fleet managers can also emphasize the importance of both pre- and post-trip Driver-Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR). More regular inspections by drivers ensures they’re actively monitoring for maintenance needs and can call out problems well in advance so necessary repair or replacements can occur.

2. Practice preventive (or predictive) maintenance   

When it comes to long-haul trucks, maintenance is key to ensure vehicles are in optimal condition. This is especially true of brakes. Preventative or condition-based maintenance - following a planned schedule of service, often based on an equipment manufacturer’s recommendation at certain engine hours or mileage benchmarks - is a great first step, but as we mentioned, since driver behavior directly impacts brakes, they may need repairs earlier than the schedule dictates. Fleet managers looking to automate maintenance can use technology like GPS fleet tracking to work against maintenance schedules in addition to meter readings, maintenance logs or historical records. Predictive maintenance, which uses sensors or connected assets to collect analytics and models to forecast when vehicles might require care, is another way fleet and safety managers can ensure brake maintenance, repair or replacement is completed well in advance to prevent unplanned downtime.  

3. Improve overall driver behavior

One of the biggest negative impacts on brakes is poor or unsafe driving behavior. Things like hard braking, harsh accelerating or harsh cornering all impact brake health. Rough behavior could also lead to faster-than-expected wear and tear, increasing the chance of incidents related to brake failure even if the vehicle wasn’t technically “due” for a brake servicing. Since driver behavior directly impacts brake performance, leading to potential violations during the upcoming CVSA event, fleets should consider a longer-term solution to improve overall safe driving habits. Creating programs to track driver’s behaviors through fleet management software, coach them with personalized data and incentivize safe driving with monetary or non-monetary rewards leads to measurable safety improvements.

Properly maintained brakes are important to overall vehicle health and safety, so review these best practices ahead of this year’s Brake Safety Week to keep vehicles on the road and improve safety in the long term. 

Learn more tips about how to take charge and improve fleet safety

Oswaldo Flores is a Safety & Compliance Product Manager at Teletrac Navman.

As a former fleet supervisor, Oswaldo has first-hand experience managing drivers and vehicles, ensuring his fleet maintains adherence to all internal and external regulations, policies, and guidelines, including DOT compliance, ANSI/OSHA certifications, and CHP Biennial Inspection of Terminals. Prior to his current position at Teletrac Navman, Oswaldo held fleet and compliance administrative management, fleet supervisory,  sales and business development roles with Pepsi Cola, Time Warner Cable, British Petroleum North America and Legacy Supply Chain Services.