Brake Safety Week Tips

Brake Safety Week, taking place this year from September 7-13, 2014, is part of the Operation Airbrake program sponsored by CVSA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). During the week-long brake safety campaign, commercial motor vehicle (CMV) inspectors will conduct brake system inspections (primarily Level IV) on trucks and buses throughout North America. The goal is to identify out-of-adjustment brakes and brake system violations. Properly functioning brake systems are crucial to safe CMV operation. CMV brakes are designed to hold up under tough conditions, but they must be inspected and maintained carefully and consistently, so they operate and perform properly throughout the vehicle's life.

Brake Safety Week is an annual outreach and enforcement campaign designed to improve commercial vehicle brake safety throughout North America. Brake-related violations include the largest percentage (49.6% during Roadcheck 2013) of all out-of-service violations cited during roadside inspections. Improperly installed or poorly maintained brake systems can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of trucks and buses, which pose a serious risk to driver and public safety.

Brake inspections conducted during Brake Safety Week include:

  • Inspection of brake-system components to identify loose or missing parts
  • Identification of air or hydraulic fluid leaks
  • Notating worn linings, pads, drums or rotors
  • Analysis of other faulty brake-system components

Antilock braking systems (ABS) malfunction indicator lamps also are checked. Inspectors will examine brake components and measure pushrod stroke when appropriate. Defective or out-of-adjustment brakes will result in the vehicle being placed out of service.

Brake Safety Week Tips: 

  • Automatic brake adjusters are required

Self-adjusting brake adjusters (S-ABAs) are mandated on each brake for all vehicles produced for initial sale in the United States beginning October 19, 1994 and all vehicles produced for initial sale in Canada starting May 31, 1996. If your vehicle was manufactured after these dates, respective of country, self-adjusting brakes are required.

  • How to verify that your ABS is working

If your vehicle or combination includes any units that were required to be anti-lock brake system equipped at the time of manufacture, those unit(s) must have a functioning ABS malfunction lamp(s) that turns on and then off when power is supplied to the unit. If ABS lamps do not illuminate at all, you will likely face a violation. If ABS lamps illuminate and stay on, you may also be in violation. Check our field references to see if your vehicle requires a functioning anti-lock brake system (ABS).

  • How to identify chaffed or worn hoses

Air hoses and tubing must not be worn so as to render them likely to fail. Pages 26-27 of the April 1, 2014 CVSA North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria Handbook and Pictorial state the following on brake hose/tubing:

Roadside enforcement inspectors look for wear and damage to brake hoses and tubing. The following are descriptions of out-of-service (OOS) conditions, along with the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation number for reference: 

1. Any damage extending through the outer reinforcement ply. (393.45(a)) NOTE: Rubber impregnated fabric cover is not a reinforcement ply. NOTE: Thermoplastic nylon tube may have braid reinforcement or color difference between cover and inner tube. Exposure of second color is an out-of-service condition.

2. Bulge/swelling when air pressure is applied. (393.45(a)) 

3. Audible air leak at other than a proper connection. (393.45(a)) 

4. Improperly joined such as a splice made by sliding the hose ends over a piece of tubing and clamping the hose to the tube. (393.45(a)) 

5. Damaged by heat, broken, or crimped in such a manner as to restrict air flow. (393.45(a)) 

  • What is a PBBT inspection?

A Performance Based Brake Tester (PBBT) measures the slow speed brake force and weight at each wheel, adds up the total vehicle brake force, and divides it by the total vehicle weight to determine overall vehicle braking efficiency. U.S. federal regulations and the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria require a minimum braking efficiency of 43.5%. If your vehicle's braking efficiency is below 43.5%, your brakes are in need of service because they are not providing the minimum stopping power required and are performing poorly.

Continue to identify ways to reduce risk and avoid catastrophe at the Crisis Management Center.