Most of today’s commercial trucks rely on air brake systems, which are friction-based and include service brakes, parking brakes, a control pedal and an air storage tank, to slow and stop their trucks. While many within the trucking industry consider these systems superior to alternatives for heavy vehicles, they are also prone to failure.

According to Transport Topics, air brake failure issues are common enough within the trucking industry that they play a role in 29.4% of truck crashes. When a truck lacks a functioning brake system, it endangers not only the person driving the truck but also everyone else he or she encounters on the roadway. Air brake systems may fail because of issues that arise within the systems themselves, or because the truck drivers using them make errors.

System failures

Many truck crashes linked to air brake failure happen when something within the system affects the flow of air that keeps the brakes open and functioning. When the air stream stops, the brakes may stop functioning as intended and lead to wrecks.

User errors

Other air brake failure issues develop when truckers ride the brakes repeatedly when maneuvering their vehicles down steep hills. Pressing the brakes constantly, rather than sporadically, may cause the brakes to overheat and catch on fire.

Over-relying on the brakes is far more common among younger truck drivers who lack professional experience. Older truckers with more miles under their belts often know the dangers associated with using the brakes too much when traveling downhill and rely on alternative techniques to help slow their semitrucks.