Trucks at Work

Spring brake checks uncover good trends

Back in May, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducted its annual one-day surprise inspection of bus and truck air brake systems as part of its ongoing “Operation Airbrake” program.

A host of CVSA-certified inspectors fanned out across 32 states and Canadian provinces and territories, checking the brakes on some 6,337 commercial motor vehicles – and the results of their inspections offer some good news.

For starters, 9% of the vehicles inspected this year were placed out of service (OOS) for excessive brake stroke violations – also known as brakes being “out of adjustment.”

Yet in 2014, that percentage was 9.5%, so the overall OOS rate declined.

This year, 7.7% of the 6,337 vehicles inspected were given OOS tags for brake component violations, such as cracked or missing components, air leaks, damaged brake hose or tubing, drums, rotors, etc.

But’s that down even more dramatically compared to 2014, when the OOS rate hit 8.5%.

Overall, in 2015, 14.2% of the vehicles inspected were tagged OOS for brake violations of any kind compared to 15.2% last year, CVSA noted.

[Click here to view a chart of the data collected from each participating jurisdiction during 2015 Brake Check Day.]

Here are a few other data points to mull over:

  • In all, more than 50,000 individual wheel ends were checked throughout North America during last May’s one-day surprise brake inspection event.
  • Brakes equipped with manual slack adjusters were 2.5 times more likely to be out of adjustment than those equipped with self-adjusting brake adjusters.
  • While self-adjusting brakes are mandated both in the U.S. and Canada, there are slightly different parameters. Automatic slack adjusters are required on all air-braked commercial vehicles operating in the U.S. manufactured after Oct. 20, 1994, but in Canada, that “active” date is May 31, 1996.
  • Brake-related violations comprised the largest percentage – some 46.2% percent – of all OSS violations cited during CVSA’s annual International Roadcheck campaign back in 2014, which is focused on both vehicles and drivers.

And just a heads up while we’re discussing brakes: CVSA's next Operation Airbrake event is Brake Safety Week, a week-long brake safety campaign that will run from Sept. 6 through Sept. 12 this year.

Mark your fleet’s calendars.

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