Unsafe truck brakes threaten roadway safety

California motorists may be concerned to hear that brake violations are the most common safety issue found by inspectors examining commercial trucks. Because of the size and weight of semi trucks, they pose a particular danger to others on the road in case of a crash. Drivers and passengers in other vehicles are more likely to suffer severe injuries or even fatalities in case of a collision. Therefore, it’s particularly important that trucks are able to put on the brakes in a dangerous situation.

In September, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducted its Brake Safety Week inspection blitz, looking for safety violations that affected trucks’ braking systems. Almost 5,000 vehicles were ordered off the road due to brake violations, over 14 percent of all trucks randomly inspected as part of the program. Inspectors examined 35,080 commercial trucks during the inspection spree, ordering 4,955 out of service until they corrected brake issues, some of which could lead to serious truck crashes.

While a number of issues were found by the inspectors, many addressed weaknesses in vehicle maintenance for antilock braking systems (ABS). Over 8 percent of all air-braked power units requiring ABS had violations, while 12.5 percent of the trailers requiring ABS were found to be in violation of safety standards. Brake Safety Week is designed to highlight the problems with truck brake safety, especially as general inspections have repeatedly found that brake problems top the list of trucking violations.

Unsafe or poorly maintained brakes can be a significant contributor to a catastrophic truck accident, leading to severe injuries and lifelong disabilities. People who have been injured in a crash due to negligent truck maintenance can work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for their damages, including medical bills and lost wages.