Operation Airbrake Puts 2,700 Commerical Vehicles Out of Service

A surprise inspection blitz of commercial motor vehicles across the US and Canada on September 7 resulted in 1064 vehicles being put out of service for brake violations and 1680 for other safety violations, according to the Commerical Vehicle Safety Alliance.

CVSA stated that most of the commercial vehicles that were inspected had anti-lock braking systems. But 11% of those vehicles with air brakes had ABS violations, and 5% of trucks with hydraulic brakes had ABS-related infractions.

The commercial vehicle inspection program in September was part of the alliance’s Operation Airbrake program, which was performed in a partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

Brake-related safety infractions were the biggest percentage of all out of service violations that were cited during the program, according to Capt. Christopher Turner, CVSA president, said in a Nov. 7 press release. He noted that the goal of this yearly inspection blitz is to reduce the number of commercial vehicle crashes that are caused by malfunctioning brake systems. This is done by doing more roadside inspections, and providing drivers, mechanics, and owner-operators with education on the importance of brake maintenance.

The alliance also pointed out that it is critical for all commercial vehicles to be equipped with fully functioning brakes. These vehicles may weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and take 196 feet to stop from a speed of 55 MPH, compared to 133 for a typical passenger vehicle.

Our View

Tractor-trailer crashes are frequently blamed on brake failure, especially by truck drivers who are trying to transfer blame for a serious accident from himself to the truck. When a claim of brake failure is made, some people may assume that a catastrophic failure of the truck’s brakes spontaneously occurred which led to the wreck.

However, our experience as Virginia truck accident attorneys has shown us that truck brake systems are designed so that a total failure is extremely rare. Most alleged ‘brake failures’ on trucks are not really failures but are problems of performance that are related to poor maintenance.

Most commerical vehicle braking systems can still provide an adequate level of braking in a normal situation, such as a routine stop for a red light. but when a high level of braking force is needed for an emergency situation, maintenance deficiencies will appear.

Regular truck brake maintenance is essential to prevent crashes that lead to serious injury or even death. But the number of trucks taken out of service during the recent inspection program mentioned in this article illustrates that many truckers and companies are neglecting brake maintenance. Our Virginia personal injury law firm’s $650,000 jury verdict for a tractor-trailer with serious maintenance deficiencies shows just how dangerous poor vehicle maintenance can be.