Most modern semitrucks now use air brake systems. However, when something goes wrong, whether because of a system failure or a truck driver’s error, the repercussions are often severe. Air brake failure is a leading contributor to trucking accidents, so it is vital that trucking companies learn what causes it and take steps to avoid it.
Per Transport Topics, air brake failure now factors into 29.4% of all semitruck wrecks. While truck drivers who have considerable experience behind the wheel are less likely to make mistakes that cause failures within their brake systems, newer, less experienced truckers are more apt to make such mistakes.
How driver mistakes cause air brake failure
Truck drivers should never ride their brakes when traveling down steep hills. Braking generates heat, and when brake systems generate too much heat, it may lead to premature brake fade. When a trucker driver over-relies on the brakes repeatedly, it may cause the brakes to stop working.
How system issues cause air brake failure
The majority of the time, air brake failure issues result from truck driver errors, rather than issues within the air brake system. However, issues may arise within the brake system if anything interferes with the compressed air stream the brakes need to stay open. When something inhibits the stream of air, the brakes apply and may lock up.
Many truck wrecks that list brake failure as a contributing factor are preventable. Truckers should use brakes sporadically when traveling downhill and should also use jake brakes when possible.