Today’s commercial trucks weigh an average of 80,000 pounds, so it is critical that they have high-functioning brake systems that help slow them when need arises. Most modern semi-trucks rely on air brake systems to do so, but these systems are prone to failing in two distinct ways.

According to Transport Topics, air brake failure issues are so common that they now contribute to 29.4% of modern commercial truck wrecks. Most of these wrecks occur because one of the following circumstances is present.

System failure

Sometimes, air brake systems stop functioning not because the person driving the truck does something negligent, but because there is something amiss within the system itself. Air brakes work when a steady stream of air helps them function, but if something impacts this airstream, it may cause the brakes to lock up and automatically apply.

Trucker error

Brake failure issues caused by driver errors may be more common than those caused by system failures. According to one study of almost 970 truck crashes, driver error was a factor in almost 90% of them. When truckers “ride the brakes” traveling down steep hills, it may lead to premature brake fade, which affects braking performance. It may, too, cause the brakes to catch fire, which may lead to a driver panicking and crashing as a result.

Research shows that young drivers with less truck-driving experience are more likely to overuse the brakes and cause brake failure than older, more experienced ones. Older ones often know not to rely on the brakes alone when traveling downhill and that there are other methods, such as using jake brakes, that help slow trucks.

Find more about wrecks involving cars and commercial trucks on our webpage.