In terms of size and weight, commercial trucks tend to trump passenger vehicles. As a result, the drivers and passengers in the smaller vehicles typically suffer the most when the two collide. Because it takes so much to stop a large semi-truck, all trucks must have properly functioning brake systems. Regrettably, this is not always the case.
Air brake systems, per Transport Topics, can malfunction on their own, which can lead to serious crashes and associated injuries and fatalities, but they can also malfunction because of a truck driver’s errors. Many truck crashes involving brake failure issues also involve younger, less experienced truck drivers. Today’s trucking companies must ensure their drivers are well-trained and well-informed about how to avoid brake failure issues.
Common causes of semi-truck brake failure
In some cases, a semi-truck driver can experience brake failure due to a malfunction within the air brake system itself. To work properly and remain open while a trucker drives, air brakes need a steady supply of compressed air. When the system malfunctions, this compressed air can stop coming through, which can lead the brakes to lock up.
Another common cause of air brake failure involves truck drivers overusing the brakes when traveling down steep hills. When a trucker relies on the brakes too much, it can lead them to overheating, failing and even catching fire. Typically, experienced, well-trained truck drivers are aware of the dangers associated with pressing the brakes too long when traveling downhill Therefore, they may be better able to avoid this issue than newer, less experienced truck drivers. Similarly, more-experienced truck drivers generally know they can also rely on the truck’s jake brake to help slow it down. The jake brake is a part of the truck that utilizes engine power, rather than brakes, to slow the semi-truck.
Brake failure issues are alarmingly common in the trucking industry, playing a role in nearly 30% of truck crashes. Therefore, training drivers about how to avoid brake failure issues could save numerous lives every year.