A common goal among safety
advocates in the trucking world is to properly regulate big rig brakes power and maintenance. Due to
their weight, trucks require more space to stop than cars, and when the space isn't available an
accident can easily occur. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) took a step
toward this goal in 2009, issuing new braking standards for commercial truck tractors to help
minimize brake related crashes. The main tenant of the new required stopping distance is that a
tractor traveling at 60 miles per hour (MPH) must be able to stop in 250 feet. This is 105 feet less
than the previous requirement, a 30 % reduction. By 2013, the new standard should be in full effect
and enforcement. This is a huge leap for trucking safety, especially when noting the fact those
commercial trucks rear-ending consumer vehicles is a top reason for truck related accidents. Follow
my Utah Truck Accident Attorney blog. It has always been my goal to
promote safety and knowledge about the trucking industry.
Trucks have a considerably different braking system than cars. Car brakes rely on a hydraulic system,
in which fluid flows through the brake system to engage the brakes. Currently, the majority of
tractors in the United States use drum brakes. Air disc brakes offer a shiny alternative, but
American companies have been slow to accept them. Disc brakes boast many improvements on drum
brakes, but the price for their greater efficiency is about $200 more per unit. Brake manufacturer
Bedix Spicer say benefits of air disc brakes include, nearly 40 percent reduction of stopping
distances when compared with drum brakes, elimination of brake fade, a common problem with drum
brakes, and no increase in the wear of disc pads on a tractor or brake linings on a trailer.
Truck brakes also utilize
compressed air; the fact that air will never run out like fluid can makes the brakes more reliable.
Many newer trucks have a dual air brake system, so that if one set of brake controls fails, the
other will work to stop the truck. Although the brake system in a truck is more reliable than a
car's, it does have a downside called brake lag. As a part of their training, truck drivers must
learn that their brakes don't work immediately as they do in a car. Lag time is less than a second,
so drivers just learn to slightly adjust their expectations when braking.
It is fantastic to see that cost cutting does not take priority over safety. Although the new brakes
cost slightly more, if their implementation manages to save one life then there is no question that
the right choice has been made by law makers. Unfortunately, the trucking industry can never be 100%
safe and accidents and collisions will continue to plaque roadways. Please remember to be safe out
there and treat large commercial trucks with the respect they deserve. More information about
current truck driver safety standards can be found on my Utah Truck Accident Attorney website.