CVSA’s surprise inspections keep brake safety in check

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Forty-five states and provinces across the United States and Canada blitzed the continent during a 12-hour surprise inspection on May 7 focusing on commercial motor vehicle braking systems. Each year the unannounced brake-check days that are a part of CVSA’s Operation Air Brake Campaign result in thousands of trucks and buses being pulled off the highways. Operation Air Brake is an ongoing international truck and bus brake safety effort dedicated to improving commercial motor vehicle brake safety throughout North America.

“Poorly adjusted or defective air brakes reduce the braking capacity of large vehicles and further increase their stopping distance,” says Stephen F. Campbell, CVSA executive director. “Even under ideal conditions, the stopping distance of commercial vehicles can be twice as far as that of cars and other smaller vehicles. Having defective brakes increases the risk to the driver and any passenger, as well as to others traveling the roads.”

CVSA says the May 7 unannounced brake check day resulted in the following:

  • 11,908 vehicles inspected;
  • 93,751 brakes inspected;
  • 9.9 percent of vehicles placed out of service for brake adjustment defects;
  • 8.3 percent of vehicles placed out of service for brake component defects;
  • 15.8 percent of vehicles placed out of service for brake-related defects;
  • 9.4 percent of brakes with manual brake adjusters placed out of service;
  • 3.8 percent of brakes with self-adjusting brake adjusters placed out of service; and
  • 4.7 percent of all brakes inspected placed out of service for brake adjustment defects.
  • Since 1998, when the Operation Air Brake Campaign was launched, the cumulative effect of the 14 unannounced brake check days have resulted in a total of:

  • 138,749 vehicle inspections;
  • 1,134,841 brakes inspected;
  • 11.4 percent of vehicles placed out of service for brake adjustment defects;
  • 7.7 percent of vehicles placed out of service for brake component defects;
  • 17.3 percent of vehicles placed out of service for brake-related defects;
  • 8.9 percent of brakes equipped with manual brake adjusters placed out of service;
  • 3.9 percent of brakes equipped with self-adjusting brake adjusters placed out of service; and
  • 5.1 percent of all brakes inspected placed out of service for brake adjustment defects.
  • “A significant problem we are noticing in recent years is the practice of manually adjusting self-adjusting brake adjusters,” Campbell says. “If you have a brake that is overstroking and it has a self-adjusting (automatic) brake adjuster, you more than likely have a problem with the brake or the adjuster. If you readjust it, you aren’t fixing the underlying problem.”

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