Because of a truck’s large size and weight, brake failure on commercial semi trucks can have disastrous consequences. While truck brakes in good condition should rarely fail, brake failure related accidents nevertheless cause injuries and fatalities every year. Why does this happen? Here are five reasons:
- Not using the front brakes. In an effort to save money on brake maintenance and tire wear, some owner operator drivers disconnect the brakes on the tractor. This leaves the trailer brakes with the full burden of braking the entire rig. Downshifting is also used to augment the brakes. Because the tractor doesn’t contribute to the braking, the rig’s ability to slow down and stop is weakened.
- Inadequate brake maintenance. While some trucking companies diligently keep up with their maintenance, some do not and are not caught in time by a DOT brake inspection to prevent a deadly truck accident. Braking deficiencies will sometimes allow the truck to brake in ordinary circumstances but not when hard braking is required in an emergency.
- Overloaded trailer. A truck pulling too much weight requires excessive braking distances even when using brakes in good condition. This endangers the public safety, especially in situations demanding hard braking. Overloaded trailers place extra stress on the braking system which may fail especially when they are poorly maintained.
- Brake overheating on downhills. Poorly trained drivers using improper braking technique on downhills can overheat the brakes and weaken their braking force. At some point the brakes fail to keep the truck’s speed under control. Poor brake maintenance can also contribute to the problem.
- Brake imbalance. Brake imbalance occurs when some brakes work harder than others. This may be caused by using mismatched mechanical components or when the pneumatic system applies more air pressure to some brakes than others. This uneven distribution may cause some of the brakes to lock up and lead to skidding and jackknifing. A brake imbalance can also cause some brakes to overheat when going downhill.
If you or someone close to you have experienced physical and financial setbacks because of a truck accident, contact us to discuss your case.