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Truck Brake Errors That Endanger Everyone

By Jason Bottlinger on February 13, 2023

In a big rig, the braking systems are far different than is found in a passenger vehicle. A truck’s brakes must have the power to stop incredibly heavy vehicles, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Truck drivers need a special skill set correctly use air brakes, disc brakes, or drum brakes, or hydraulic brakes, particularly when traveling on a downhill slope. When drivers do not use the correct braking technique, it can cause the brakes to fail, leading to a deadly crash.

Why Is It Important for the Trucking Industry to Hire Experienced Drivers?

With the current national shortage of truck drivers, some trucking companies are hiring inexperienced drivers. This practice puts everyone on the roadways at risk. Because of their sheer size and weight and the heavy, sometimes hazardous loads they carry, large commercial trucks require more skill to operate safely than other types of vehicles. Inexperienced drivers can make mistakes that endanger the lives of other people. Truckers who have spent more time on the road are more likely to possess the knowledge and skills to handle challenging situations safely.

How Should Truck Drivers Brake While Traveling Downhill?

On a long or steep downgrade, a trucker should use the brakes sparingly, relying mainly on the braking effects of the engine to slow the speed of the rig. The driver should determine a speed that is safe for conditions, for example 50 mph, and use proper braking techniques to maintain it as follows:

  • Apply the brakes gently for a few seconds – just long enough to reduce the truck’s speed to 5 mph below the safe speed, 45 mph in this example.
  • Release the brakes.
  • When the truck’s speed has climbed back up to 50 mph (the safe speed), repeat the two steps above.

What Can Go Wrong When Proper Braking Techniques Are Not Used?

Proper braking techniques are crucial when a semi tractor-trailer is on a downhill slope. Excessive use of the brakes can cause them to overheat. This can lead to brake fade, caused by chemical changes in the brake lining that reduce friction and cause the brake drums to expand. Continued improper braking can cause the truck’s brakes to fail entirely.

When a truck’s brakes fail, it can be disastrous for everyone on the roadway. If the driver is not able to stop the truck, it could plow into another vehicle ahead in a violent rear end collision. When the truck picks up speed on the downgrade, the driver could lose control of the rig and the truck could jackknife or roll over, blocking lanes of traffic and causing multi-vehicle pileups. Braking too hard on a downgrade can also cause jackknifing or a rollover.

How Can a Lawyer Help You Prove That Improper Braking Caused a Truck Crash?

If you have been injured in a collision involving a large commercial truck, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you are able. The sooner you start the process, the sooner your lawyer can begin an investigation into the crash, gathering evidence and collecting witness statements. Information about the driver’s braking technique may be available in the truck’s “black box” (event data recording device), but your attorney will need to act quickly to ensure this data is preserved.

Why Choose Us?

At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., we have won millions in compensation for our clients. We are compassionate listeners and effective litigators. Our legal team is deeply dedicated to the people we serve. We believe a personal injury claim is not a minor legal matter, and you should not have to pay for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence.

Call us today at (402) 505-8234. We offer a free initial consultation with no obligation.

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Posted in: Truck Accidents

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