brake inspection

Two of the key uses of telematics systems are monitoring vehicle performance and setting up automated maintenance schedules to detect problems before they lead to roadside breakdowns or, worse, crashes and collisions. It’s a proven way to improve fleet management productivity.

A recent unannounced inspection initiative targeting brake safety by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) highlighted the importance of these telematics features. The surprise inspections conducted during CVSA Brake Safety Day led to numerous violations and the restriction of nearly 800 trucks from traveling until the violations were corrected.

This crackdown on brake-related issues highlights the ongoing efforts to enhance road safety and underscores the importance of maintaining proper brake systems in commercial vehicles. Telematics systems can help fleet managers more easily keep up with these issues, no matter the size of the fleet.

What is CVSA Operation Airbrake?

The surprise inspections happened across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. CVSA Brake Safety Day is part of Operation Airbrake, a CVSA program that focuses on improving commercial vehicle brake safety throughout North America. It’s done in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, and Mexico’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation.

Operation Airbrake involves two annual brake safety campaigns each year – the unannounced inspection earlier this year, and Brake Safety Week, which is scheduled in 2023 for Aug. 20-26.

CVSA is best-known by fleets for its annual international roadcheck. Officials with the CVSA conduct inspections at weigh stations, inspection stations and with roving patrols. It’s a 72-hour initiative meant to provide high visibility to safety issues with a high volume of inspections. This year’s inspections took place in May.

Findings from the CVSA Brake Safety Day

During the one-day unannounced inspection day in April, certified inspectors performed inspections on 6,829 commercial vehicles. They focused primarily on assessing the condition of brake systems, with inspectors collecting data to gain a snapshot of the state of brakes on trucks.

The results of the inspection initiative were concerning. Inspectors found brake-related critical inspection items on 11.3% of vehicles inspected, rendering them unfit and unsafe for road travel. This led to restriction of 773 commercial motor vehicles until the identified violations were rectified.

Top Brake-Related Violations

Among the various brake-related violations discovered, three categories stood out.

Brakes Violations (479 instances)

This violation is declared when 20% or more of a vehicle’s service brakes exhibit an out-of-service condition, such as maladjustment, audible air leaks, defective linings/pads, or missing brakes where required. These conditions pose a significant risk to road safety and warrant immediate attention and corrective action.

Other Brake Violations (368 instances)

This category includes violations such as worn brake lines, broken brake drums, inoperative protection systems, air leaks, and hydraulic fluid leaks. While not as severe as the first category, these violations still compromise the overall brake system’s effectiveness and require prompt remediation.

Steering Brake Violations (81 instances)

Steering brake violations involve issues like inoperative brakes, mismatched brake chambers, mismatched slack adjuster length, and defective linings. Steering is critical for vehicle control, making any compromise in this area particularly hazardous.

In this year’s CVSA Brake Safety Day, inspectors also placed emphasis on capturing data related to brake lining/pad violations. These violations have a direct impact on a motor carrier’s safety rating and are closely monitored for their potential to compromise brake performance. Out of the 6,829 commercial motor vehicles inspected, a total of 195 lining/pad violations were identified, highlighting the need for continuous monitoring and maintenance in this area.

The findings shed light on the pressing need for continued vigilance regarding brake system maintenance and highlight the potential risks associated with neglected brake issues. Telematics systems that automatically identify potential problems with a truck’s performance, as well as establish proactive maintenance schedules, can help fleets address these important issues.

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