Truck Safety Campaign Results Released
In its three decades of existence, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has worked to save lives and make North America’s roadways safer. With brakes factoring into a majority of commercial vehicle crashes, the CVSA has made improving compliance, maintenance, inspection and performance of commercial vehicle braking systems a priority by establishing its Brake Safety Week initiative. In 2011, the event, held from September 11 to 17, proved to be another successful campaign.
Traditionally, Brake Safety Week, conducted with and supported in part by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is a time when trucking companies, public safety, commercial, state police and highway departments take part in education programs, brake inspections and public service announcements regarding the dangers of brake defects. The program has proven that properly operating commercial vehicle equipment saves lives.
In 2010, over 32,788 Americans died on our nation’s highways. Big trucks account for about 11 percent of traffic fatalities and a majority of the victims are not truckers and their passengers, but occupants of other vehicles. In almost 30 percent of these crashes, braking issues are to blame.
This year’s Brake Safety Week included updates from another CVSA initiative known as Roadcheck, as well as demonstrations on truck air brake testing technologies. In early June, during a 72-hour blitz, approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified inspectors examined an average of 14-15 trucks or buses per minute from Canada to Mexico. This year brake issues represented more than 50% of safety violations. During this year’s Brake Safety Week, efforts regarding CVSA’s Operation Air Brake campaign came to light. As part of this campaign, roadside inspectors continue to deploy two model Performance-Based Brake Testers (PBBTs), which assess the braking capability of a vehicle. In the future, the PBBTs will be used by law enforcement and federal regulators to monitor vehicle, driver and carrier compliance.
For commercial trucks, braking capabilities can make the difference between minor accidents and fatal crashes. Big rigs and the like use air brakes, while passenger cars use hydraulic brakes. Large trucks have poorer braking capabilities than passenger vehicles and need almost 50 percent more stopping distance than their smaller counterparts. Even in good weather and road conditions, faulty braking equipment can cause a big truck to skid, jackknife or lose control.
Through the CVSA’s various programs, most significantly Brake Safety Week, improved truck safety and performance have made our highways safer. The international organization has proven that lives and livelihoods can be saved through awareness and targeted initiatives.