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How Do Semi-Trucks Brakes Fail? Causes And Errors

Professional truck drivers need to learn more about safety measures. Mostly attending & passing truck driving school is crucial. but not as important as quickly thinking and decision-making.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance assessed over 10,000 commercial vehicles in 2019 and discovered that 16.1% of semi-trucks had severe braking faults. 

Brake issues cause 30% of commercial truck accidents. In this article we aims to look at the common reasons why semi-truck’s brakes fail.

Why do semi-trucks brakes failures occur so frequently?  

When truck drivers use their brakes too much by putting them on down long slopes, some tome it might be danger. Their brakes might go out. It might ruin their brake pads and put others’ lives at risk too.

According to the FMCSA report published in September 2022,  

“In 2020, 4,998 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 5-percent decrease from 2019. From 2019 to 2020, large truck and bus fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by all motor vehicles increased from 0.162 to 0.177, 14 percent below the 21st-century peak of 0.205 in 2000.”

In Colorado, one unlicensed driver loaded a yacht too big for the truck. Additionally, the trailer’s brakes failed. The driver probably didn’t realize he should have declined the load. He didn’t know to slow down and utilize low gears on the 15-mile, 6% grade. He blew a red light at the bottom of the slope and killed two people after overheating the brakes. 

We have many cases like that in the US. where commercial truck brakes fail, and mostly it is because the operator used them wrongly, causing them to overheat.


Why is proper training necessary for truck drivers? 

A good driver training program will teach drivers what they need to know and how to do it so they can drive safely. It is critical for rookie truck drivers. Proper driver training can help drivers establish cautious driving habits and prevent fatalities. 

What to do if a semi-truck brake fails? 

Commercial vehicle drivers are responsible for keeping their trucks roadworthy at all times. It includes semis, tractor-trailers, tankers, and other commercial trucks. 

Brake failure scares truck drivers. But experienced drivers can avoid these risks in some cases and protect themselves and others on the road. Stop with an emergency brake, find an escape route, or use an escape ramp. 

To maintain the semi-brake system, remember the facts mentioned above. 

What are the causes and errors? 

Low gear and slow speed allow you to descend a grade safely without a braking system. when
driver began to slow down too quickly, around 5 mph too fast, causing the brake failure and the vehicle to flee. In this situation brakes convert momentum into heat, if they become too hot, they fade and operate less effectively.

Big truck braking systems are sophisticated and powerful, but they need proper maintenance and operation. Keep in mind these typical semi-truck braking problems and their causes: 

  • Improper loading

    Uneven truckloads might cause braking concerns. If this is the case, it might be harder to stop. You should properly monitor weight distribution even if you aren’t loading or unloading your truck.

  • Poor brake maintenance

    A trucker applies the brakes correctly, yet a brake failure causes an accident. Poor truck maintenance may have caused the accident, making the transportation company responsible. 

  • Brake lock

    A truck brake lock occurs when the brake shoe becomes jammed. This may be why your truck accelerates slowly. The shoe has trouble releasing after being engaged. 

  • Over-braking

    Over-braking occurs when you brake aggressively, particularly on steep slopes. Over-using brake paddle weakens brakes by overheating the brake drum. Instead of holding the brakes all the way, apply them forcefully and briefly to avoid this. 

  • Brake imbalance

    Brake imbalance occurs when your brakes function harder. Mismatched mechanical components or the pneumatic system applying higher air pressure to specific brakes might cause this. Uneven brake distribution may cause skidding and jackknifing. When traveling downhill, a brake imbalance can overheat those brakes. 

  • Front brakes not used

    Some tractor owners detach the brakes to reduce on brake maintenance and tire wear. It shift the entire rig’s braking on the trailer brakes. Downshifting boosts brakes too  

Wrap Up 

Mostly accidents happen when driver or their employer use shortcuts and show negligence on brake inspections & maintenance either to save money or time. And sometimes it could be a truck manufacturing defect or a design defect as well.

A truck without brakes is dangerous. Drivers can use several methods to stop the vehicle quickly.
Sometime these approaches may endanger fellow drivers. Inexperienced drivers may panic in situation and make unsafe decisions. Truckers’ brake failure response depends on training.

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