The program targets commercial vehicles in the United States and Canada, and is conducted in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
During Operation Air Brake, CVSA-certified inspectors are encouraged to meet with drivers at truckstops and other locations where drivers and mechanics congregate. Inspectors conduct inspections of commercial vehicles in an effort to instruct and educate drivers on the inspection procedure and the operation of the braking systems. CVSA emphasizes that this is supposed to be an educational, not an enforcement event.
Poorly adjusted or defective air brakes reduce the braking capacity for large vehicles and further inhibit their stopping distance. Under ideal conditions, the braking capacity of commercial vehicles is twice as far as that for cars and other smaller vehicles. This increases the risk to other users of the road and the driver (or his/her passengers) of the vehicle itself.
In a matter of a few minutes a driver can easily adjust air brakes equipped with manual slack adjusters and check for other brake-related defects. Professionals in the enforcement, regulatory and training business believe the main causes for drivers not adjusting brakes is a lack of education and not having the proper commitment to safety. A good number of drivers are trained to adjust brakes but simply choose not to adjust them, or are not certified to do so.
According to CVSA, more than 30,800 vehicles were inspected during Operation Air Brake in 2011, more than any other year since the program's inception in 1998.