Recent Surprise Brake Check Finds 14% of Commercial Trucks Aren’t Road-Worthy


The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is a US-Canadian-Mexican organization aimed at improving commercial vehicle safety in North America. As part of this objective, every year CVSA performs an unannounced, surprise brake check on commercial vehicles. This year’s brake check day was on May 6th and the results are in. The verdict: of the 6,337 vehicles evaluated 14.2% or about 900 trucks were found to have violations that marked them as not roadworthy and put them out of service. Let’s take a closer look at the results and what they mean for driver safety in the US.


The inspection blitz evaluated commercial vehicle brakes in a few different ways. It failed about 9% of the inspected commercial vehicles for brake adjustment violations. Meanwhile 7.7% failed due to brake component violations. Altogether about 14.2% of the trucks checked were found to have a violation that warranted putting them out of service for brake safety issues.

These results, though very troubling, actually represent a minor increase in brake safety compared to 2014 in which 9.5% rather than 9% of the inspected vehicles had brake adjustment violations and 8.5% as opposed to this year’s 7.7% had brake component violations. Altogether about one percent fewer trucks were put out of service this year with 15.2% failing in 2014 and 14.2% failing this year.


The reality, however, is that in spite of these very moderate safety gains the results as a whole are completely unacceptable and hint at the extent of danger American drivers are in from commercial vehicles. The findings indicate that at any given time 14-15% of these massive, big rig commercial trucks may be operating with brakes that are insufficient to safely stop them. Any vehicle or family in their paths could pay the price in debilitating, even fatal accidents.


Another important finding by CVSA during the brake check event was that commercial vehicles that had manual brake adjusters were significantly, about 2.5 times, more likely to have a violation than commercial trucks that had self-adjusting brake adjusters. These self-adjusting brake adjusters have been required in the United States on all commercial trucks manufactured since October. 20th, 1994. The older, manually adjusted brake adjusters are demonstrably more prone to problems and neglect. As these older models are phased out we can hope that safety gradually increases.


CVSA has a week-long brake safety campaign coming up in September. The event, entitled “Brake Safety Week” and lasting from Sunday, September 6th to Saturday, September 12th will strive to improve brake safety in the commercial trucking industry. However, it is important to realize that CVSA can only do so much to improve road safety and that it is also up to us to demand effective safety legislation and to hold reckless truckers and trucking companies accountable when their negligence results in serious accidents. One crucial tool for doing this is through the legal justice system. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a commercial vehicle accident, whether due to faulty brakes, other mechanical failure, or general negligence on the part of the trucker or trucking company, it is imperative that you protect your legal rights. Dugas Law Firm have the experience, dedication, and resources to help you get the legal justice you deserve for your accident.

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