Commercial truck crashes result from many different circumstances, but some causes are far more common than others. Research shows that air brake failure is one of the most frequent causes of today’s semitruck crashes, accounting for almost 30% of them.
According to Transport Topics, the vast majority of today’s commercial trucks now have air brake systems, which need a constant stream of air to stay open and functioning. However, a study of almost 1,000 commercial truck crashes revealed that failure of the air brake system contributed to 29.4% of them. These braking systems are prone to failing in two main ways: because of user errors and because of malfunctions within the air brake systems.
Statistics show that many air brake systems fail and cause crashes because the people driving them are negligent when doing so. Some truckers, and particularly, those who lack experience, overuse the brakes when making their way down long, steep hills. This may cause premature brake fade. It may also result in the brakes overheating and catching on fire.
Drivers who have adequate training and experience often know better than to rely solely on the brake system to get downhill safely. They may know to use the brakes sporadically when navigating hills and employ the jake brake when possible as an alternative to over-relying on the air brake system.
If something interferes with the airstream that keeps the brakes open, it may impact their functionality. When the brake system does not get the stream of compressed air it needs to function, the brakes may lock and apply themselves, leading to a loss of control for the driver.