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Brake Safety Week (940 × 418 px) - BLOG-1

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) announced that this year’s Brake Safety Week will be held August 20-26.

If you are not familiar Brake Safety Week, it is a time when inspectors throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico conduct their annual brake safety inspection, enforcement, and education initiatives. The focus area for this year will be the condition of the brake lining and pad, but inspectors will be capturing and providing data on all brake-related out-of-service violations.

“Brake lining and pad issues may result in vehicle violations and could affect a motor carrier’s safety rating,” said CVSA President Maj. Chris Nordloh with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Poorly maintained or improperly installed brake systems can negatively impact the braking capacity and stopping distance of trucks, which poses a serious risk to both driver and public safety. To address this, Brake Safety Week aims to identify and remove commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that have critical violations and encourage proactive vehicle maintenance.

Out of the 38,117 CMVs inspected during Brake Safety Week 2022, 13.3% were placed out-of-service for brake-related critical vehicle inspection item violations.

“In those split-second emergency situations, the proper functionality of the brake systems on large commercial motor vehicles is crucial,” said former CVSA President, Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

Brake Safety Week comes on the heels of the Roadcheck 2023 in May and Operation Safe Driver Week in July, and is part of a concentrated effort by the CVSA to improve both driver and vehicle safety.

Results from previous Roadchecks have also highlighted the need for brake safety education. Roadcheck 2022 showed that brake violations accounted for the most of any category of vehicle violations: 37.9%! That number was down only slightly from Roadcheck 2021, when 38.9% of all vehicle violations were brake-related.  

operation airbrake

Brake Safety Week is part of CVSA’s Operation Airbrake, a comprehensive program dedicated to improving brake safety throughout North America. The goal is to reduce the number of highway crashes caused due to faulty braking systems by performing roadside inspections, as well as educating drivers, mechanics, owner-operators, and others on the importance of proper brake inspection, maintenance, and operation.

More information on Operation Airbrake can be found here

What will happen during an inspection?

Inspectors will perform a standard Level I and Level V inspection, and report their findings to CVSA. As always, inspectors will be looking at everything, but this year they will be placing special emphasis on the condition of the brake lining and pad.

During the brake portion of an inspection, an enforcement agent will be:

  • looking for missing, non-functioning, loose, contaminated, or cracked parts on the brake system
  • checking for non-manufactured holes (such as rust holes and holes created by rubbing or friction) 
  • making sure there are no broken springs in the spring brake housing section of the parking brake
  • checking for contaminated, worn, cracked, and missing linings or pads
  • listening for audible air leaks around brake components and lines
  • ensuring the air system maintains air pressure between 90-100 psi (620-690 kPa)
  • checking for S-cam flip-over
  • measuring pushrod travel
  • checking that slack adjusters are the same length (from center of S-cam to center of clevis pin) 
  • making sure the air chambers on each axle are the same size
  • inspecting the required brake-system warning devices, such as ABS malfunction lamp(s) 
  • inspecting the low air-pressure warning devices
  • ensuring the breakaway system is operable on the trailer
  • inspecting the tractor protection system, including the bleed-back system on the trailer

Additional information on CVSA inspections and their requirements can be found here.  

how to prepare for an inspection

The best way to prepare is to do your pre- and post-trip inspections! This proactive maintenance will not only ensure your safety, but will help reduce general and brake-related violations. It is also important to perform a thorough evaluation of your truck to make sure it meets the inspection criteria listed above. 

Download the CVSA’s Standard Roadside Inspection Vehicle Cheat Sheet for an easy-to-follow vehicle inspection checklist.

The CVSA also provided 10 Brake Lining and Pad Tips to ensure your truck is in tip-top shape prior to Brake Safety Week:

  1. Inspect visible portions of the brake lining and pads as part of your pre- and post-trip inspections.
  2. Look for signs of missing lining, such as grooves in the drum from rivet contact.
  3. Look at the shoe-to-drum clearance and ensure there is adequate lining on the shoe.
  4. Look for any signs of leaks from the hub or other components that may be contaminating the lining/pad surface.
  5. Ensure there are no missing brake linings (lining blocks).
  6. Check for visible cracks or voids in the brake lining (lining block).
  7. Check for any exposed rivets or brake linings (lining blocks) that look loose on the shoe.
  8. On disc brakes, pay particular attention to the condition of the rotor, such as heavily rusted rotors across the entire friction surface on either side or metal-to-metal contact.
  9. Make sure all repairs are consistent with the brake manufacturer’s requirements and guidelines.
  10. Note any issues in your driver vehicle inspection reports and report them to the motor carrier to have the defective linings/pads repaired.

It's also important to double check that you have the correct paperwork, either physical or electronic copies, and that it’s easily accessible during an inspection. If you notice something is missing now, you have time to get it replaced. 

Important paperwork includes:

  • driver’s license
  • truck and trailer registration
  • fuel permits
  • insurance cards
  • annual inspection stickers for both truck and trailer
  • instructions for the ELD

As always, obey the laws!  Wear your seat belt, don’t speed, fully stop at lights and stop signs, and use the left lane for passing. If you have a restriction, make sure you have the appropriate supplies. If you wear glasses, make sure you have them on. If you use hearing aids, make sure you have spare batteries. And stay off your cell phone!

Keep a safety mindset and don’t get too comfortable - it can be easy to overlook things when you do. And stay off your cell phone!

how to act during an inspection

Be professional, kind, and courteous. Officers are just regular people wearing uniforms. If you treat them well, it will go much better for you. 

If you feel you are being written a ticket unfairly, do not be confrontational. The company you work with can and will appeal the result if necessary. Calmly ask for clarification on any violations so you can explain them to your company's safety personnel correctly and with full understanding.  

commitment to safety

Brake Safety Week highlights the hard work and commitment to safety by both drivers and inspectors. It is important that we all work together to ensure the safety of our drivers, our trucks, and everyone else who shares our roads.

The results from Brake Safety Week will be released in the fall.