Home Blog Truck Accident Why Correct 18-Wheeler Braking Practices Are So Important

Why Correct 18-Wheeler Braking Practices Are So Important

By Aline Miranda on December 20, 2022

A fully loaded big rig truck weighs at least twenty times more than a regular passenger vehicle. It’s not surprising that trucks cause devastating injuries when they collide with cars, vans, motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians.

According to the National Safety Council, trucks are two and a half time more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than other types of vehicles. That’s why it’s crucial for trucking companies to do everything they can to prevent accidents.

Poor truck driver braking techniques are a major cause of truck crashes. The most effective way to prevent brake failure is by hiring experienced drivers with good safety records.

Sadly, a lot of trucking companies try to save money by hiring inexperienced drivers. They also engage in negligent hiring if they don’t perform background checks or fail to review DMV records when taking on new drivers.

Unsafe Braking Causes Brake Fade

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, brake problems account for almost 30 percent of truck collisions. And a frequent cause of truck accidents is brake fade, which occurs when a truck’s brakes are no longer capable of generating enough friction to stop the vehicle.

Brakes work by creating friction when the vehicle’s shoes rub against the drums. This generates heat, but truck shoes and drums are designed to withstand high temperatures.

When an inexperienced driver overuses their brakes while driving downhill, brakes can become overheated. Then the shoes will have to move farther and farther to contact the drums. Eventually, this causes brakes to fail.

Experience drivers avoid brake fade by using the following techniques when driving on a decline:

  • Downshift to lower gears
  • Never ride the brakes
  • Apply steady pressure when braking
  • Press brakes just hard enough to notice a slowdown, then release
  • Don’t wait until you’ve reached a decline before changing gears

How to Ensure Safe Trucker Braking

Trucking firms have extremely high turnover rates. That’s because a lot of trucking companies aren’t willing to pay a decent wage to keep experienced drivers. Instead, they hire people right out of trucking school or hire less desirable drivers with poor safety records.

Experienced drivers have learned proper braking techniques, and they won’t panic in an emergency. They are also less likely to drive too fast. Experienced drivers know that the stopping distance for a truck is twice as long as a car, so they leave a cushion around the vehicle to stay safe.

To prevent accidents, trucking companies should service their vehicles regularly and use a checklist to make sure everything is in good working condition. Brakes must be properly adjusted, and tires should be fully inflated.

Truck drivers should do the following to prevent accidents:

  • Pull over right away if the brake pressure warning light comes on.
  • Never exceed the California truck speed limit of 55 mph.
  • Don’t slam on the brakes when traffic stops.
  • Take a break if you’re feeling fatigued.
  • Never tailgate.

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