Roadcheck 2014, the industry's annual 72-hour inspection blitz, kicks off at midnight tonight and runs through Thursday June 5. Are your trucks ready for an up close and personal inspection?

“Last year, one in five vehicles inspected was placed out of service due to a violation serious enough to be considered an imminent safety hazard according to CVSA,” said Fred Andersky, Bendix director of government and industry affairs. “Bendix shares the CVSA’s commitment to safer vehicles, which is why we strive to equip fleets, drivers, and technicians with the tools they need to run safely on our roadways.”

During Roadcheck 2013, more than 10,000 CVSA and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration inspectors participated at approximately 2,500 locations, completing 73,023 truck and bus inspections during the 72-hour campaign.

To help ensure the safe operation of commercial vehicles, Bendix stresses two levels of maintenance. One is preventive maintenance – the regularly scheduled, thorough review of the vehicle. The other is the pre-trip visual inspection, in which drivers check for loose hoses, leaks, and other obvious problems.

Bendix encourages truck and bus fleets and owner-operators to pay careful attention to braking systems. In 2013, braking systems accounted for nearly half – 49.6 percent – of the out-of-service violations issued during Roadcheck. Brake system violations made up 30.1 percent, while brake adjustment violations totaled 19.5 percent.

“A thorough examination of brake lining thickness and condition is vital to both safety and regulatory compliance,” noted Gary Ganaway, director of marketing and global customer solutions at Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake. “Cracked or worn linings may not provide the stopping power necessary to maintain effective braking power, and brake lining inspections play a role in Compliance, Safety, Accountability scoring.”

Correct chamber stroke is just as important as compliant brake linings. Wheel-ends beyond the maximum allowable brake stroke are considered out of adjustment, and under CVSA inspection guidelines, drivers can incur fines if 25 percent of a truck’s wheel-ends are out of adjustment. During Roadcheck 2013, approximately 3,700 vehicles were removed from service due to out-of-adjustment brakes.

“If you’re a fleet or driver operating vehicles with automatic slack adjusters, remember this: Do not manually adjust the adjuster,” said Mark Kromer, engineering and product manager for slack adjusters at BSFB. “While there are several factors that can cause a brake stroke to be beyond the maximum allowable value, none of them can be fixed by manual readjustment of the automatic slack adjuster. The key is to discover the cause.”

After the Blitz is Over

Of course, attention to brake operation and performance shouldn't end when the Roadcheck wraps up. Bendix offers ongoing technician training and support through its On-Line Brake School, a free online site offering anytime access to Bendix’s knowledge database and technical resources, including a dynamic menu of video segments and other training tools.

The company launched its on-line brake school in March 2013. The school, which is international in scope, already serves over 18,000 registered users, with new participants signing up weekly. Drivers, technicians, distributors, fleets, and owner-operators can use the online school to get up-to-date and in-depth training on their schedule and at their convenience.

Brake inspection violations sidelined almost one in five trucks during Roadcheck 2013.

Brake inspection violations sidelined almost one in five trucks during Roadcheck 2013.

Bendix also stresses the importance of using proper replacement parts – ensuring that they meet original equipment manufacturer requirements – for best performance and compliance results. Bendix says performance issues and other problems can occur when parts not meeting OEM standards are introduced into a system.

“Relining today’s higher performing drum brakes is an important example,” Ganaway said. “Replacing with high performance friction – designed to meet federal reduced stopping distance requirements – is essential. Incorrect or inferior replacement friction material is likely to reduce performance, wear out faster, and create a safety hazard.”

Because not all replacement friction marketed as acceptable under RSD will actually perform to the standard, Bendix advises fleets to ask for evidence of compliance from their friction supplier when replacing the friction on their RSD-equipped trucks.

To help fleets and drivers ensure that their replacement friction meets all safety and performance standards after brake relining, in 2013, the company introduced it Bendix Advanced BA202R, which it claims is the commercial vehicle industry’s first aftermarket friction certified to maintain RSD compliance. Bendix says it Advanced Friction is designed to provide higher torque and perform in higher temperatures with less fade.