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Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP | Jun 13, 2015

BRAKEing News

In a recent surprise brake inspection conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), 14.2% - about 900 out of 6,337 – trucks were placed out-of-service (ESI, 2015). This inspection didn’t stop with just brake, either: other areas of the truck and possible violations were documented as well.

Approximately 9% of the trucks—570 of 6,337—had brake adjustment violations and 7.7%—488 of 6,337—were put out-of-service for brake component violations. Although both of these numbers are down from last year, that still means a lot of trucks were operating on America’s roads unsafely.

The CVSA will hold its annual Brake Safety Week inspection spree the week of September 6-12, 2015. Sponsored by the CVSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), during the course of this event tens of thousands of commercial vehicles will be thoroughly inspected with emphasis placed on air brake components.

CVSA reports that inspectors will look for “brake-system components to identify loose or missing parts, air or hydraulic fluid leaks, worn linings, pads, drums or rotors, and other faulty brake-system components.” Antilock braking system (ABS) malfunction indicator lamps and pushrod stroke when applicable will also be checked.

If brakes in the vehicles are found to be defective or out-of-adjustment the vehicle will be taken out of service. Last year, of the 12,305 vehicles that were inspected 2,162 trucks – a little over 16% - were found to have brake violations and placed out-of-service (ESI, 2015).

Having sued trucking companies on behalf of people injured or killed by trucks that were not being safely inspected or maintained, this is an issue near to my heart. Interstate trucking is a vital part of our nation’s economy, and you cannot drive long on any highway without passing by the large trucks. With the great risk they pose to the public—drivers, passengers, people walking, biking, or crossing the street, even the often over-worked truck drivers—comes a great responsibility for trucking companies to inspect and maintain their big rigs safely.

I’m glad so many companies take the risks and responsibilities so seriously. For the rest, let’s support the regulators in catching them before they injure or kill another family, and the brave families willing to fight back through the civil justice system after a potentially deadly crash caused by an unsafe or unscrupulous trucking company.