With Updates (2)... The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) announced today that brake-related out-of-service violations increased overall during its latest Brake Safety Week enforcement campaign.
During that annual event, held Sept. 7-13, 2014, CVSA-certified commercial motor-vehicle safety inspectors conducted 13,305 brake system inspections on trucks and buses operating throughout North America.
Those inspections resulted in 2,162 commercial vehicles being placed out of service (OOS) for brake violations.
The OOS rate for all brake-related violations conducted during Brake Safety Week was 16.2%-- compared to the 13.5% tally of the 2013 event.
In addition, CVSA stated that the OOS rate for brake adjustment increased to 10.4%-- up from 9.0% in 2013-- and the OOS rate for brake components reached 9.3%-- up from 7.1% in 2013.
What’s more, the rise in brake adjustment and brake component violations represent a reversal in the generally downward trend for both categories that was seen from 2011 to 2013.
CVSA listed these inspection results from Brake Safety Week 2014 and compared them back to 2011:
- 13,305 vehicles were inspected (vs. 20,067 in 2013)
- 1,658 or 16.2% of vehicles were placed OOS for brakes overall (vs. 13.5% in 2013, 15.3% in 2012 and 14.2% in 2011)
- 1,388 or 10.4% of vehicles were placed OOS for brake adjustment (vs. 9.0% in 2013, 9.4% in 2012 and 8.4% in 2011)
- 1,244 or 9.3% of vehicles were placed OOS for brake components (vs. 7.1% in 2013, 7.8% in 2012 and 7.9% in 2011)
The alliance also pointed out that, once again, the OOS rates for Canadian jurisdictions came in lower than those in U.S. jurisdictions, noting that:
- OOS rates for brake adjustment violations were 4.6% in Canada vs. 10.8% in the U.S. (10.4% combined)
- OOS rates for brake-component violations were 6.8% in Canada vs. 9.5% in the U.S. (9.3% combined)
- Total brake violations were 11.0% in Canada vs. 16.6% in the U.S. (16.2% combined)
Roadside inspections conducted during Brake Safety Week include: inspecting brake-system components to identify loose or missing parts, air or hydraulic fluid leaks, worn linings, pads, drums or rotors, and other faulty brake-system components; checking antilock braking systems (ABS) malfunction indicator lamps; and inspecting brake components and measured pushrod stroke “when appropriate.”
“The ultimate goal of Brake Safety Week is to reduce the number of highway crashes caused by faulty braking systems on commercial vehicles,” observed CVSA president Capt. William Reese of the Idaho State Police, in new release on the results.
“We strive to reach that goal by conducting roadside inspections and educating drivers, mechanics, motor carriers and others on the importance of proper brake inspection, maintenance and operation,” he continued.
FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling commented that, “Whether you are behind the wheel of a big rig, intercity bus or family car, safe and reliable brakes are fundamental to protecting everyone on our roads.” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling.
“Each year,” he added, “the Brake Safety Week inspection blitz reinforces that commercial drivers and companies are responsible for ensuring that their vehicles are well maintained and in safe working condition at all times.”
Asked how the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) viewed the outcome of Brake Safety Week 2014, spokesperson Sean McNally told FleetOwner that “We [at ATA] are concerned, of course, by these results and look forward to exploring them in greater depth.”
According to CVSA, each year during the week-long brake safety campaign, local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico conduct roadside inspections to identify out-of-adjustment brakes and brake-system violations.
Brake Safety Week is part of Operation Airbrake, which is sponsored by CVSA in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). More than 3.4-million brakes have been inspected since the joint program was launched back in 1998.
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“Unfortunately, we don’t really know why brake violations may increase or decrease year by year,” Will Schaefer, CVSA’s director of Vehicle Programs and Operation Airbrake program manager, told FleetOwner.
“We do know that brake violations represent around half of all vehicle out-of-service violations found by inspectors, so if there was one area of compliance for vehicle maintenance to focus on, brake systems would be it.
“Furthermore,” he continued, “brake system performance directly impacts the safety of motor vehicle operation. These are some of the principal reasons behind our Operation Airbrake and Brake Safety Week campaigns— we want to highlight the importance of brake system maintenance.”
Schaefer also pointed out that brake pushrod stroke (brake adjustment) violations are “likely the easiest target for improvement. While we observe that most vehicle operators— including fleet owners and owner operators alike— pay close attention to their vehicles’ brake systems, many operators show room for improvement.
“Brake stroke should be checked on a regular basis, and brakes without automatic adjusters should be regularly adjusted to within adjustment limits set by the regulations,” he advised. “And a self-adjusting brake that is out of adjustment should be diagnosed by a qualified brake technician.”
He noted that the “vast majority of brakes on the road today— including 92% of brakes checked during Brake Safety Week— are equipped with self-adjusting brakes. This technology, required on vehicles manufactured in the U.S. starting October 20, 1994 (and in Canada starting May 31, 1996), does not prevent brake stroke violations. But we regularly find that manually adjusted brakes are more than twice as likely to be out of adjustment as self-adjusting brakes—15.2% of manual brakes inspected were out of adjustment, while only 4.8% of automatic adjuster-equipped brakes were out of adjustment during Brake Safety Week 2014.
“Once again,” Schaefer added, “any time a self-adjusting brake is out of adjustment, it needs a proper diagnosis— and most of the time, the slack adjuster is not the problem.”
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“In my opinion, [the higher rate of OOS violations] is from less attention being paid to brake repair, including bushings and auto slacks, as well as to brake drum life that has shortened and brake lining product quality that is marginal,” Darry W. Stuart, president of DWS Fleet Management, told FleetOwner. “There is also a lack or initial and constant brake-stroke checking-- and most assume that the mechanics understand this importance.
“More than that,” he continued, “most shift leaders and front-line managers have little or no concern with proper brake stroke. Most are hiding behind the issue and some are relying on all the fancy indicators. Most will not change auto slacks when worn out because of costs and the belief ‘they should last forever’—which is so untrue.
“Wake up and look at you own fleet, put on the PM sheet ‘stroke check and review’ and have supervisors initial inspections and audits,” Stuart advised. “As President Reagan once said, ‘Trust, but verify.’"