Operation Air Brake / Brake Safety Week
Have You Checked Your Brakes Today?
Out of adjustment air brakes and brake system defects constitute the major defect areas resulting in commercial vehicles being placed out of service. Poorly adjusted or defective air brakes reduce the braking capacity for large vehicles and further inhibit their stopping distance. Under ideal conditions, the braking capacity of commercial vehicles is twice as far as that for cars and other smaller vehicles. This increases the risk to other users of the road and the driver (or his/her passengers) of the vehicle itself.
In a matter of a few minutes a driver can easily adjust air brakes equipped with manual slack adjusters and check for other brake-related defects. It is the opinion of professionals in the enforcement, regulatory and training business that the primary causes for drivers not adjusting brakes is a lack of education and not having the proper commitment to safety. A good number of drivers are trained to adjust brakes but simply choose not to adjust them, or are not certified to do so.
Over the past few years there has not been a significant change in the rate of vehicles taken out of service for poor air brake adjustment or other brake related defects. Traditional enforcement methods, through the North American Standard Inspection Program by themselves, are having a reasonable impact in helping to remove dangerous vehicles off the road. However, much more needs to be done.
In order to reduce the out of service rate for brake defects, a more comprehensive campaign has been developed, called Operation Air Brake. This Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) model has been used successfully in other areas of traffic concerns (most notably seat belt usage), and it is expected that a campaign using this model will be effective in addressing the issue of brake defects. The Operation Air Brake Campaign was developed and initiated by Canada in 1998.
Operation Air Brake is an ongoing effort of an international truck and bus brake safety campaign dedicated to improving commercial vehicle brake safety throughout North America.
Reduce the number of highway crashes caused by faulty braking systems on commercial vehicles by conducting roadside inspections and educating drivers, mechanics and others on the importance of proper brake inspection, maintenance and operation.
Industry Involvement is Critical
- The motor carrier industry, through its associations/lobby groups, to partner in this campaign. Industry partners will be expected to keep confidential any information that would compromise the success of the program, (such as the dates for the unannounced brake check days).
- CVSA-certified inspectors conduct roadside inspections of commercial vehicles and their drivers with an emphasis on braking systems.
- CVSA-certified inspectors are encouraged to meet with drivers at truck stops and other locations where drivers and mechanics congregate. The inspectors would conduct inspections of commercial vehicles in an effort to instruct and educate drivers on the inspection procedure and the operation of the braking systems. This is an educational, not an enforcement event.
- Educational brochures are available both at the roadsides and at locations (such as truck stops) where inspectors would meet with drivers and mechanics.
- Jurisdictions are encouraged to use other means to educate and emphasize the importance of proper brake inspection, maintenance and safety.
- Inspectors are encouraged to meet with trucking company officials (such as safety directors) and truck stop operators to arrange for demonstrations of maintaining safe brakes.
- Jurisdictions are encouraged to get industry involved in the event, such as the state or provincial trucking association.
- News releases, television and radio interviews take place in an effort to promote the events and to communicate the Operation Air Brake message.