Tough Brake

Date: May 25, 2021

Greg Tatum, Risk Control Consultant

Safety Insights to Prevent Out-of-Service Violations

According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, out-of-adjustment brakes and brake system violations combine to represent half of all out-of-service violations issued for commercial vehicles on the road. Brake systems that are improperly installed or poorly maintained can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of commercial motor vehicles, creating a serious safety risk. In fact, brakes were listed in FMCSA's top 20 Out-of-Service Violations.

Safety Insights

Each day, brake systems should be inspected, especially if the driver is using set-out vehicles for loading. Often, set-out drivers will only use the emergency gladhand for moving trailers to release the brake system, and air leaks will not be noticeable to the drivers.

Set-out drivers are the first line of defense during vehicle violations. Remind your drivers to connect both the service and the emergency lines to listen for air leaks within the braking system. Gladhands should be inspected on both the tractor and trailer when hooking up.

As a rule of thumb, the driver should replace gladhands every year or whenever the air lines have been changed, whichever is earliest. However, if there are signs of damage or wear, the seals need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Here are some key signs that may indicate the gladhand seals need replacing:

Brake seals that need replaced

1. Loss of Brake Pressure

The biggest sign of a leak in the gladhands is the loss of air brake pressure. Most modern truck air brake systems should be able to reach operating pressure in 45 seconds or less. If the brakes take more time than that, it may indicate a leak somewhere in the brake lines, including the gladhand seals.

2. Loss of Braking Power

When enough pressure is lost while braking, this can result in weaker squishier brakes, forcing the driver to put more effort into the brake pedal to make the wheels slow down.

3. Loud Noises

Listen for a loud hiss or noise whenever the parking or service brake is applied. Loud noises such as these can indicate that pressurized air is leaking out from the gladhand seal or somewhere along the brake line.

To learn more about preventing Out-of-Service Violations or ways to keep your employees safe on the job, consult with your BITCO Risk Control Consultant, or find a BITCO agent near you.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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