Tractor-trailer Air Brake Systems

Commercial tractor-trailers are equipped with air brakes. It is critical to keep the brakes in adjustment. Reconstruction engineer know that many accidents are the result of poorly adjusted slack adjustors and is usually the starting point of a commercial truck accident investigation.

These air brake system, which are often the cause of commercial truck accidents.

The braking system of commercial tractor-trailers uses compressed air rather than hydraulic fluids, as do cars and light trucks. The benefit of using compressed air is that it allows the truck to be connected or disconnected quickly from the trailer without risking contaminating the air brake system. Connecting and disconnecting a hydraulic fluid system would be more difficult and more time-consuming.

If air were introduced into a hydraulic system, it would deteriorate the overall braking efficiency of the vehicle. Although air brake systems are used instead of hydraulic systems on tractor-trailers for safety reasons, they are not free from being susceptible to problems that may cause inadequate braking. 

Maintain Air Brakes to Prevent Accidents

The most common cause of a braking problem stems from a lack of maintenance or calibration. A truck/tractor with poorly maintained or calibrated slack adjusters required more distance and time to stop the rig. Sometimes, this can cause trailer swing-outs and even jackknifing.

Other problems may result from mechanical defects or even improper repairs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require motor carriers to regularly inspect, repair and maintain its motor vehicles to ensure that they are in a safe operating condition at all times.

Our reconstruction engineers gather critical information about a vehicle's braking ability/efficiency after each truck/tractor investigation. 

The information gathered about the overall combination of parts and an inspection of the accident scene allows the accident reconstruction engineer to calculate the speed the truck/tractor was traveling at the beginning of tire lock-up. The overall braking efficiency of the tractor-trailer braking system is determined by the examination of the slack adjustors. Truck/tractor investigation takes into account not only the condition of the air brake system, the vehicle's load, driver's interaction and roadway environment but also federal regulation governing the operation of the vehicle. 

An expert witness can help uncover the cause of a traffic accident due to air brake failure.

A good understanding of how the truck braking system works is essential in reconstructing a traffic accident involving a commercial truck/tractor. Identifying the cause of a braking problem is a tedious task that requires the expertise of highly trained professionals. 

Seek the help of an engineer with expertise and training in commercial air brakes to determine the condition of air brakes on a truck involved in an accident. They will answer questions about maintenance, calibration, repairs, defects, speed, and braking. This information is valuable to clients and attorneys in making informed decisions about which direction to go with their case. 

For information about traffic safety and federal regulations, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. 

Further Reading

Commercial truck accidents

Why air brakes can be the cause of traffic accidents

How federal trucking regulations apply

New Commercial Truck Rules: Electronic Logs for Truckers

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