Today’s commercial trucks weigh between about 10,000 and 25,000 pounds, so when they collide with traditional passenger vehicles, the drivers and passengers in those cars often suffer injuries and fatalities. Many modern commercial truck crashes share similar elements in common. A substantial number of them involve a truck’s air brake system failure.
According to Transport Topics, air brake failure issues play a key role in 29.4% of crashes involving semi-trucks. Some instances of truck air brake systems failing have to do with defects within the actual brake systems. Other times, a truck’s air brakes fail because of a truck driver’s own actions or negligence.
System-related air brake failure
Research shows that brake failure is the most common equipment-related factor in commercial truck crashes. Air brake systems may fail if something stops the stream of air needed to keep the brakes functional. When this occurs, the brakes may lock up, causing a truck driver to lose control and crash.
Trucker-related air brake failure
If a truck driver overuses the brakes and keeps them pressed for extended periods when traveling down hills, this may impact the efficacy of the braking system. Continued overuse of the brakes may also cause early brake fade and brake performance issues. “Riding the brakes” is a common behavior among newer truck drivers. Many more seasoned truckers are better-versed in alternative actions they might take to slow their trucks, such as engaging the jake brake.
While failures within a truck’s brake system are not always avoidable, failures caused by overuse or a trucker’s negligence typically are.