Most of today’s commercial truck drivers rely on air brake systems when maneuvering their trucks down steep hills. Yet, research shows that air brake failure issues are a leading cause of commercial truck crashes. Prone to failing in two specific ways, air brake failures create serious safety hazards for anyone in a semitruck’s path.
According to Transport Topics, air brake failure issues often arise either because of a malfunction within the brake system itself or because of a truck driver’s error. Such issues have become so common that they now play a role in 29.4% of truck wrecks.
Brake failure caused by system malfunctions
If something hinders the performance of the compressor within the air brake system or if the compressor’s intake lines begin to leak, such circumstances could lead to air brake failure. The brakes rely on an airstream to work as intended. If the compressor malfunctions, the brakes may lock and apply themselves.
Brake failure caused by driver mistakes
Air brake failure may also occur in situations where a truck driver relies too much on the brakes when traveling downhill. If a trucker overuses the brakes when navigating downhill, rather than using them periodically or in conjunction with a jake brake, it may lead to early brake fade. It may also cause the brakes to get too hot or even catch fire, limiting a driver’s control and endangering everyone on the roadway.
Brake failure caused by overuse of, or over-reliance on, the air brake system is more common among younger, less experienced truck drivers. Those with more experience on the road know that there are other steps involved in seeing a truck downhill safely as opposed to riding the brakes.