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Brake Safety Week: The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Brakes & the Roadside Inspection Procedure


Brake Safety Week is coming up next week. September 8th to the 14th will mark a 15 year ongoing effort for an international truck and bus safety campaign that is dedicated to improving brake safety across North America.

Here are the top 10 things you need to know about brakes on Commercial Vehicles:

  1. Commercial vehicles are powered forward by fuel and they are stopped by brakes that use heat as their energy source.
  2. By far, brakes comprise the largest percentage of out-of-service violations cited during roadside inspections.
  3. Braking systems are complicated and contain many parts that need constant inspection and attention to ensure proper operation and performance.
  4. To be able to rely on your brakes in every driving situation, they must be properly adjusted, maintained and inspected before and after EVERY trip.
  5. The only way to know when you have a bake adjustment problem is to measure the stroke.
  6. Poor brake adjustment reduces the ability of the service brakes to stop a vehicle and also reduces the ability of the emergency/parking brakes to stop and/or hold a vehicle.
  7. Highway warning signs are typically for drivers of automobiles, truck drivers must translate them for trucks.
  8. Highway design engineers often do not know the margin of safety for trucks in their design. As a result, even if your brakes are adjusted and performing properly, when you are able to see a potential problem ahead, your chances of stopping are less than that of car drivers. Under ideal conditions, the braking capacity of trucks is twice as far as that for cars and other smaller vehicles.
  9. Truck drivers must be especially careful as to how they apply their brakes when driving in mountainous areas.
  10. There are various external factors besides brakes that affect the vehicle’s ability to stop:
    1. Tire construction: compound and tread depth
    2. Loading particulars and dynamic weight shift of cargo
    3. Vehicle speed
    4. Driver condition such as mental state and awareness of surroundings
    5. Traffic congestion
    6. Pavement surface characteristics
    7. Stopping-sight-distance.

Next week, officials will be conducting roadside inspections across the country and educating drivers on the importance of brake inspection, maintenance and operation. All air brake inspections are classified as a Level IV Inspections. Below, an outline of the inspection procedure:

Items inspected:

  • Driver’s license
  • Registration
  • Low Air Warning Device
  • Pushrod Travel (adjustment)
  • Brake Linings/Drums
  • Air Loss Rate (if a leak is detected)
  • Tractor Protection System


  1. Choose the inspection site
  2. Address Safety considerations
  3. Check Air brake mechanical components
  4. Check steering axle air brake mechanical components
  5. Check brake adjustment
  6. Build air pressure to 90 – 100 PSI
  7. Check the air brake ABS system (if applicable).
  8. Test Air loss rate
  9. Test low air pressure warning device.
  10. Check tractor protection system
  11. Finalize Paperwork and provide the results to the driver (i.e., out-of-service, etc.).

Check your vehicle’s air brakes daily to make sure you will be ready for next week! For more information, visit the CVSA website. Do all you can to make sure you won’t be put out of service and that you can maintain delivery times!

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