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What Brake Safety Day tells us about maintenance and fleet safety

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

On April 25, 11,531 truckers got a surprise when they were pulled over for brake checks during the CVSA’s unannounced Brake Safety Day. The annual event removes CMVs with brake violations from the roads to boost awareness of the dangers caused by faulty brake systems.

This year, nearly 1,600 CMVs (14%) were placed out of service for failing their inspections, the same percentage as in 2017. In addition, slightly more than 10 percent of the 8,128 air-braked trucks with hydraulic brakes requiring ABS had violations.

While the 14 percent failure rate is bad enough, it’s even more distressing when we consider the link between brake violations and brake-related crashes. The FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study found trucks involved in a crash where the braking capacity of the truck was critical were 50% more likely to have a brake violation than were trucks involved in crashes where the braking capacity was not critical. 

The good news is, most brake violations are easily prevented through regular maintenance. The bad news? Many brake technicians don’t keep up with the latest brake maintenance best practices, and, more troubling, some even lack fundamental brake knowledge. That’s why it’s critical for fleet managers to train drivers on the basics of brake inspection and operation and the warning signs to look for in their trucks. Taking a proactive stance is the best way to reduce violations and improve fleet safety.

Here are some tips for keeping your trucks’ brakes in top shape:

  • Stay on top of maintenance. Following the service schedule provided by the vehicle’s manufacturer is a good start, but depending on your fleet’s needs, you may need to get your vehicles serviced more frequently. GPS fleet tracking software helps managers stay ahead of services by automatically tracking metrics like mileage, fuel use and engine hours, making it easier to know when each vehicle is due for repairs. 
  • Emphasize importance of DVIR Inspections. Another way to stay on top of vehicle maintenance – including brake pads - is to emphasize the importance of regular pre and post trip Driver-Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) to your drivers; utilize these inspections to monitor maintenance needs.
  • Prevent harsh braking. Harsh braking puts excessive strain on brakes and brake pads and can cause them to wear out unevenly and faster than they should, putting drivers at risk of having them fail unexpectedly or getting a violation. Fleet safety analytics solutions measure driving incidents like harsh braking in real-time, allowing managers to coach drivers with personalized feedback. 
  • Monitor Tire Pressure. Tires play a large part in the performance/efficiency of your vehicle’s brakes. Ensuring tire pressures are kept at the recommended PSI will aid in extending the life of the vehicle’s brakes and help keep your fleet safe. 
  • Use a checklist. This CVSA brake inspection checklist is a great resource detailing what to look for when inspecting your truck.

Click here for more ideas on building your fleet’s culture of safety.

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