Stipulations of the Federal Government on a Truck’s Braking System
It requires advanced knowledge and skills to be able to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), such as a bus, a tow truck and a big rig or an 18-wheeler, which can measure up to 70 feet in length and weighs about 40 tons or 80,000 lbs. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a branch of the US Department of Transportation, makes sure that every State’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program adheres to the standards and requirements stipulated in the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. This is to guarantee highway safety by ensuring that drivers are qualified to handle commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), while simultaneously removing unqualified and unsafe drivers from the road.
The FMCSA-implemented 11-hour maximum driving time as part of every truck driver’s 14-hour duty plus 10 consecutive hours of off-duty period has shown in a study that driver fatigue is no longer the leading cause of truck accidents. According to the website of Williams & Kherkher most truck accidents are, rather, caused by brake failure, which are usually due to overheated brakes, thin or worn out brake pads, brakes suffused with oil or grease, or worn tires.
Brakes are among the most important functions of automobiles, especially of 18-wheelers, due to the damage these can cause in the event of an accident. To ensure the safety and efficiency of these vehicles’ braking systems, the federal government has set standards that manufacturers ought to strictly comply with. Based on these standards, a braking system must enable a truck to adhere to the government’s required automatic brake adjustment system.
Failure by the manufacturer to meet such standards would mean violation of the mandates of the federal government. In some instances, however, the failure lies on the side of the truck driver and the trucking company. Due to the urgency of delivering cargo, hazardous chemicals at times, drivers and their employers fail on their duty of ensuring that the braking system is in perfect working condition.
Based on federal regulations, trucking companies ought to have a record that shows accomplishment of regular or scheduled truck maintenance. Drivers, on the other hand, are required to: do a complete check on the brake shoes to make sure that these function properly and that there is no broken or missing mechanical component; check for brake components that may be loose or not firmly attached; and, listen for possible air leaks in the brake chamber, which is an indication of possible failure in the brake system.
There are instances, though, when failure in the braking system is a clear careless act of the owner of the trucking firm, who choose to put the full pressure of slowing down or stopping the truck on the brakes of the trailer and by downshifting. They do these by deliberately depowering or unhooking the truck’s front brakes; a tactic, which they believe, will reduce wearing of brake and tire and the cost of replacing these.
Hundred of trucks are regularly visible on main roads and highways every day, so are thousands of other much smaller vehicles. Manufacturers should never slack in complying with federal standards on the way they produce brake parts; drivers and truck owners too should, in no way, compromise the safety of other motorists by failing to perform maintenance checks or by deliberately depowering the truck’s front brakes just to save on maintenance and replacement costs, for any malfunction in the truck’s braking system can cause a Delaware 18-wheeler accident, which, as factually stated in an article in the website of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, can result to “anything from a minor injury to, in the worst of cases, death.”