Big Rig Truck Braking Practices That Protect Us on the Road
Because of the size and weight of semi-trucks, downhill braking can be difficult. A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh 80,000 pounds or more. As it descends a hill, the weight can make it gain speed quickly and take longer to brake and slow down.
When the brakes fail on a big rig, it can be deadly for others on the roadway. The importance of proper truck braking and brake maintenance cannot be overstated. The trucking industry has a responsibility to motorists and others sharing the roadways to hire experienced drivers and properly maintain the brakes on their large commercial vehicles.
What Makes Improper Truck Braking on a Downgrade So Dangerous?
Brakes are designed to work with friction. The brake pads rub against the brake drums to slow the vehicle. This can generate a lot of heat when a semi-truck is traveling downhill. Excessive use of the brakes can cause overheating and lead to brake fade. With continued overuse, the brakes may fail completely, leaving the driver unable to slow or stop the truck.
How Should Truckers Brake Correctly When Traveling Downhill?
On a long or steep downhill grade, truck drivers should only use the brakes to supplement the engine’s braking effect. The driver should determine a safe speed for that particular stretch of road. With the vehicle in the correct low gear, the driver should:
- Apply the brakes lightly, just enough to feel the vehicle slow down, for about three seconds until the speed is reduced to approximately five miles per hour below the safe speed.
- Release the brakes until the speed of the vehicle has increased to a safe speed.
- Continue repeating the steps above until the truck reaches the bottom of the downhill grade.
For example, if the predetermined safe speed is 50 miles per hour, the driver should not use the brakes until the truck’s speed reaches 50. At that point, he or she should apply the brakes just enough to gradually reduce the speed to 45 miles per hour, then release them. When the speed gets up to 50 again, the driver should apply the brakes again and continue braking and releasing in this manner until the truck reaches the end of the downgrade.
How Should a Big Rig’s Brakes Be Maintained?
Trucking companies are responsible for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing equipment on large commercial trucks to prevent injury to others. Routine brake maintenance on a big rig should include the following:
- Checking the brake linings and hoses and replacing them as needed
- Replacing brake shoes, drums, and related parts
- Inspecting wheels and brake chambers, including the inner dual wheel
- Replacing damaged bearings
- Maintaining correct air pressure levels
- Lubricating slack adjusters and S cams
- Inspecting anti-lock braking systems
- Inspecting air dryers and replacing cartridges as needed
How Can a Houston Lawyer Help You Prove Improper Truck Braking Caused Your Accident?
When the brakes fail on a large commercial truck due to improper braking or maintenance, it can have deadly consequences for others on the road. If you have been seriously injured in such a collision, our seasoned Houston truck accident attorney can thoroughly investigate the crash and secure evidence to support your claim, including truck black box data. We can take photographs and measurements of the accident scene, interview witnesses, obtain surveillance camera or dashcam footage, hire experts, and utilize our knowledge, skills, and resources to prove fault and liability and recover the compensation you deserve.
Contact DK Law at (281) 402-8856 for skilled legal representation in a truck accident case. Our Texas personal injury lawyers are committed to holding negligent trucking companies and their drivers accountable for the harm they cause.