It’s estimated that a fully loaded tractor-trailer rumbling down a dry highway at 65 mph takes about the length of two football fields to stop once the brakes are hit. So the importance of properly working truck brakes cannot be over stated.

Unfortunately, a recent surprise inspection of commercial trucks uncovered an alarming number of big rigs with bad brakes on the road.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance earlier this year conducted its 2016 “Brake Safety Week,” a set of truck roadside inspections in the United States and Canada. The seven-day event was held in September and the CVSA – a nonprofit group dedicated to commercial truck safety issues – released the findings in mid-November.

More than one out of 10 commercial vehicles inspected had serious brake violations. Of the 18,385 trucks and commercial buses inspected, 13 percent had brakes found to be so unsafe the rigs were immediately taken off the road for repair. That’s about 2,400 commercial vehicles they found with dangerous brakes.

Types of Truck Brake Problems

The inspections were comprehensive and looked for problems in the trucks’ braking systems, including:

· Hydraulic fluid leaks

· Worn and damaged brake linings

· Faulty drums and rotors

In addition, the inspections focused on safety issues with antilock braking systems, more commonly known as ABS. Federal law dictates that certain commercial trucks and trailers, based on when they were built, have ABS. ABS helps prevent truck and trailer wheels from locking up on slick roads, thereby reducing jackknife accidents.

Numerous Truck and Trailer ABS Violations

Approximately 90 percent of the trucks and trailers inspected were required to have ABS. Of those, 8.8 percent of the trucks and 15.8 percent of the trailers were found to have ABS violations. Not all violations were due to the brakes themselves. Federal rules also require trucks of a certain age to have malfunction lamps that alert truckers when their ABS is not working properly. Numerous trucks were found with these malfunction lamps not working.

The CVSA held a brake inspection event in May 2016, but it was for only one day. Yet the results were disturbingly similar. In that event, 12 percent of the large commercial vehicles inspected were put out of service for dangerous brakes. About 9 percent of the trucks required to have ABS had ABS violations. The same was found for 20 percent of the trailers requiring ABS.

Driver error remains the leading cause for catastrophic trucking accidents. But poorly maintained trucks, especially when it comes to brakes, are a real and present danger, as highlighted by these inspection events.

If you had a family member killed or you were seriously injured in crash involving a semi, consult an attorney experienced in trucking accident litigation, who can conduct detailed investigations to determine all possible causes for the accident.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.