It takes more to stop a commercial truck than it does a traditional passenger car. Most modern commercial trucks on the road across Virginia and the rest of the United States now rely on air brake systems, which use a steady stream of compressed air to keep the brakes working as intended. Yet, these brake systems are prone to failure, and when a semi-truck’s brakes fail, it threatens everyone in the truck’s path.
According to Transport Topics, air brake failure has become a leading cause of commercial truck crashes, playing a role in 29.4% of them. Most air brake system failures are the results of one of two things: either a malfunction within the air brake system, itself or a truck driver’s own errors.
Air brake failure and system malfunctions
Compressed air plays a critical role in air brake operation, and if something interferes with this airstream, it impacts the effectiveness of the brake system. Without this airstream, the brakes apply themselves automatically and may lock up, leading a truck driver to lose control over the truck.
Air brake failure and truck driver errors
If a trucker is prone to overusing his or her brakes, this, too, raises the chance of air brake failure occurring. Seasoned truck drivers know better than to ride their brakes down steep hills, knowing instead to use the brakes on and off while relying on other safety features, like the jake brake, to slow the truck. When subjected to overuse, the brakes may get too hot and eventually catch fire, resulting in them not functioning as intended.
While both system issues and truck driver errors contribute to truck crashes, research shows that driver errors cause the majority of today’s air brake-related truck wrecks.