Brake Safety Week: What You Need to Know
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Brake Safety Week is scheduled for August 21st-27th, 2022. And even though it is an annual event, it tends to sneak up on truck carriers. Last year saw 12% of the 35,764 inspected commercial vehicles restricted due to brake-related violations. Inspectors also recorded 5,667 brake hose chafing violations.
In this post, we share everything you need to know to avoid trouble during brake safety week.
What's the Focus of this Year's Brake Safety Week?
During Brake Safety Week, inspectors will conduct the North American Standard Level I and Level V inspections. They also capture and record all brake-related data to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.
Inspectors will pay attention to brake systems, focusing on brake hoses and tubing. According to the CVSA, brake-related violations account for the highest portion of all out-of-service vehicle violations noted during roadside checks. Last year's CVSA International Roadcheck data showed that 38.9% of all vehicle out-of-service violations were related to brake systems and brake adjustments.
The main goal of Brake Safety Week is to remind CMV carriers, mechanics, and drivers to ensure that every vehicle complies with regulations. Proper brake system functionality on large commercial vehicles is crucial, especially in split-second emergencies. Poorly maintained brake systems reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of trucks, endangering the safety of other motorists.
What Can Drivers Expect During Brake Safety Week?
While brake systems are the emphasis of this week-long exercise, drivers can expect a full North American Standard Inspection. It covers various documentation, driver qualifications, and vehicle equipment systems.
During the brake portion of the inspection, inspectors will look for:
- Missing, loose, cracked, non-functional, or contaminated parts in the brake system
- Non-manufactured holes such as those caused by rust, friction, and rubbing
- Broken springs in the spring brake housing section of the parking brake
- Air or hydraulic fluid leaks
- Worn linings, drums, pads, or rotors
- Mismatched air chamber sizes across axles
- Audible air leaks around the brake components and lines
Inspectors will also check to ensure that the air system maintains an air pressure of 90-100 psi. They will check the S-cam flip-over and ensure that:
- Slack adjusters are of the same length
- Air chambers on each axle are of the same size
- The Breakaway system is operable
Moreover, inspectors will check for required brake-system warning devices such as low air-pressure warning devices and ABS malfunction lamps. They will inspect the tractor protection system as well.
How to Get Ready and Prevent Violations
Before hitting the road on Brake Safety Week, consider the following preparation tips to help your fleet ace inspections and prevent violations.
Practice preventative maintenance
Preventative maintenance is key to ensuring that your vehicles stay in top shape and pass inspections during Brake Safety Week. A great first step is to follow a preventative or condition-based maintenance schedule based on the manufacturer's recommendations. Remember that driver behavior greatly impacts the brake system and may necessitate repairs earlier than the schedule demands.
Check the air systems
Ensure that your fleet's air systems are free from contaminants, especially oil. Contaminants can gradually damage vital brake system components such as brake modulating valves and brake chamber diagrams. Seal deterioration due to oil contamination is a leading cause of air system leaks, one of the main components inspectors check during brake safety week.
Check brake friction
Manually inspect the quality and condition of the brake friction. The thickness and wear of the brake lining, as well as the presence of cracks, can affect your vehicle's braking power.
Check for leaks, loose ends, and cracks
The air chambers can be easily contaminated and damaged by loose or broken pushrods. It's also essential to inspect the drum brakes for cracks. Any moisture or oil in the linings can lead to leaking wheel seals. Inspect the rotors for cracks or grooves that could keep the caliper from sliding freely. Inspectors will check for this during Brake Safety Week.
Teach drivers DIY inspection basics
Many brake violations are easily avoidable, but no one catches them before the inspections, largely because there are not enough brake technicians or mechanics to perform full-day inspections before every truck departs. CVSA also found that many technicians aren't up to date with best maintenance practices. Teaching your drivers the basics of brake system inspection is a great solution to these challenges. This practice could also improve brake system health because truckers can catch problems before they worsen and cause equipment failure.
Improve overall driver behavior
Poor driving behaviors such as harsh accelerating, hard braking, or harsh cornering impact brake systems' health. It can cause the brake system to wear faster and increase the risk of brake failure-related incidents, even when the vehicle is not due for maintenance. Because of this, fleets should consider improving overall driving habits. Some of the ways to implement this include;
- Creating programs to track driver behavior through fleet optimization software
- Incentivizing safe driving with monetary or non-monetary rewards
- Coaching drivers with personalized data
Invest in predictive maintenance
Predictive maintenance uses sensors or connected assets to collect fleet management data and predict when vehicles require care. It provides more detail than interval-based maintenance, which relies on time and mileage considerations. Software for fleet management can build maintenance predictions based on direct equipment measurements and contextual data such as driver's behavior, weather conditions, road quality, and more. This allows fleets to perform maintenance and repairs before vehicles break down. It is a great way to ensure brake maintenance, repair, or replacement well before Brake Safety Week while preventing unplanned downtime.
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