Brake systems and brake adjustment violations accounted for 38.9% of all vehicle out-of-service violations — the most of any category of vehicle violations — according to last year’s three-day International Roadcheck data.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) plans to address this problem during its annual Brake Safety Week scheduled for Aug. 21-27. The yearly commercial motor vehicle brake-safety inspection, enforcement, and education initiative spans the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Now is the time for fleet operators to prepare for the North American Standard Level 1 and V Inspections. Inspectors will conduct the tests and capture and report brake-related data to CVSA.
“The purpose of these inspections is to enforce compliance to brake system maintenance and safety standards. The inspections also provide continued education and awareness to commercial vehicle operators on the importance of these standards,” said Kevin Clark, AVP of operations, Cox Automotive Mobility Fleet Services. “When a commercial vehicle has a failed braking system, the risk to the commuting public increases substantially.”
During Brake Safety Week, inspectors will look for missing, non-functioning, loose, contaminated, or cracked parts on the brake system, and non-manufactured holes such as rust holes and holes. In addition, they’ll check for broken springs in the spring brake housing section of the parking brake, according to CVSA.
Inspectors will also listen for audible air leaks around brake components and lines, and ensure the air system maintains air pressure between 90-100 psi. They’ll also inspect required brake-system warning devices, such as ABS malfunction lamps and low air-pressure warning devices. And, they will ensure the breakaway system is operable on the trailer, and inspect the tractor protection system.
Brake systems are complex, so fleet operators need to be prepared. “Fleet operators should always be thinking about brake safety, not just in preparation for safety week inspections,” Clark said. “Fleet operators who are unsure if their vehicles will pass the inspection can enlist a maintenance partner like CAM Fleet Services to conduct inspections while the vehicles are inactive leading up to Brake Safety Week.”
Clark also notes that regular maintenance is critical in ensuring a vehicle’s braking system is safe and functioning properly. “Brake systems inspections should be a part of regularly scheduled preventative maintenance inspections, performed by a qualified technician who can identify mechanical problems that exist or will exist if action is not taken,” Clark said.
However, operators should know what to look for and listen for as well. “Vehicle operators also play a role and should be trained and held accountable for completing quality pre- and post-trip inspections. For example, tests to measure air pressure loss and visual inspections for key components can easily be added to your operators’ daily inspections,” Clark said. “Another best practice is to add a brake system inspection to your inbound, outbound, fueling, or regular safety inspection.”
A violation during Brake Safety Week can lead to an out of service condition, which has many ripple effects. These include fines, CSA score issues, driver retention issues, and possibly a missed commitment to the fleet operator’s client.
Most importantly, brake violations mean safety is at stake. “Every week should be brake safety week,” Clark said. “When you are operating a commercial vehicle, you are responsible for the safety of your vehicle, your driver, and all the families who share the road.”