Photo: J.J. Keller & Associates

Photo: J.J. Keller & Associates

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Brake Safety Day is set to take place on Thursday, Sept. 7 across North America.

Law enforcement agencies will conduct inspections on large trucks and buses to identify out-of-adjustment brakes and brake system and anti-lock braking system violations, as part of CVSA’s Operation Airbrake Program.

This year’s Sept. 7 Brake Safety Day follows up on CVSA’s May 3 unannounced Brake Safety Day and replaces the seven-day Brake Safety Week campaign from previous years.

The goal of Brake Safety Day is to reduce the number of accidents caused by poorly maintained brakes on commercial vehicles by conducting roadside mechanical fitness inspections and identifying and removing vehicles with critical brake violations from the road.

The event will also feature outreach and educational efforts by inspectors, carriers, and others. Brake Safety Day activities seek to educate drivers, mechanics, owner-operators, and others on the importance of proper brake maintenance, operation, and performance.

On Brake Safety Day, inspectors will primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection, which is a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both driver operating and vehicle mechanical fitness requirements.

Ahead of Brake Safety Day, J.J. Keller has published a free whitepaper to help carriers prepare for the event, The Importance of Brakes: Key Components, Inspection, and Maintenance.The whitepaper explains how air brakes function and details necessary measures to keep brake systems in good condition. 

Bendix has also offered a series of tools and tips to prepare for Brake Safety Day.

  • Pre-Trip Readiness: Walk around the vehicle daily to visually inspect brake components and listen for audible air system leaks. Examine wheel-ends to make sure that the air chambers, pushrods, and slack adjusters are not damaged or hanging loose. Once or twice a week, get under the vehicle to check air disc brake rotors for cracks and inspect the lining wear on drum brakes without dust shields. Know how to read antilock braking system (ABS) warning light fault codes using the dashboard diagnostic switch or a remote diagnostic unit, and how to address them.
  • Air Disc Brake Upkeep: Check the mounting hardware of calipers and air chambers; monitor pad wear (minimum allowable friction material thickness is 2 mm); measure rotor thickness and look for cracks that exceed allowable limits, and look for damage or corrosion on tappets and boots. Ensure proper running clearances between the rotor and pads, and check that the caliper slides freely.
  • Attention to Chambers: During pre-trip air system tests and visual inspections, listen for air leaks around the chamber; check for missing parts such as dust plugs, caging bolts, and clamp bands; and look for obvious damage to the chamber, such as dents, corrosion, and bent pushrods.
  • Keep Slack Adjusters Lubricated: Inject new grease until old grease is forced through the release opening. Manufacturer instructions will advise on how much grease to purge from the adjuster, and what lubricant to use. Grease every 30,000 miles, or every time you do a preventive maintenance inspection.
  • Learn from Your Friction: Check friction regularly for cracks or missing pieces, ensure adequate thickness, and examine drums and rotors for signs of dragging brakes or overheating linings. Know the signs of drum friction improperly rated for the vehicle, including scoring on the friction or the drum; degradation that gives the friction a porous, charcoal-like appearance; and “hot spotting” – a leopard-spotted pattern on the drum.

Brake-related violations made up 47.5% of all out-of-service violations during CVSA's International Roadcheck event in 2016.

During 2016’s Brake Safety Week, enforcement agencies conducted 18,385 vehicle and brake system inspections, resulting in brake-related out-of-service violations in 13.2% of vehicles.

Of those inspected, 8.8% of all ABS-required trucks were found with ABS violations while 15.8% of all trailers requiring ABS were found with ABS violations.