Commercial Vehicle Safety Brake Safety

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Operation Airbrake Program , in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, holds two annual brake safety campaigns in August, a weeklong event called Brake Safety Week and a one-day brake safety enforcement initiative. Since brake-related violations comprise the largest percentage of all out-of-service violations cited during roadside inspections, CVSA has developed this focused program to conduct roadside inspections and raise awareness of this critical safety issue. CVSA’s annual brake inspection goal is to emphasize the importance of brake systems and the critical safety reasons for routine inspections.  Employers can implement Job Safety Analyses (JSA) or Activity Hazard Analyses (AHA) into their safety management program to prevent these brake-related hazards.

During CVSA’s Brake Safety Week , commercial motor vehicle inspectors emphasize the importance of brake systems by conducting inspections and removing commercial motor vehicles found to have brake-related out-of-service violations from our roadways.  In addition, inspectors will compile data on brake hoses/tubing – the focus area for this year’s Brake Safety Week.

The CVSA emphasizes that properly functioning brake systems are crucial to safe commercial motor vehicle operation. Commercial motor vehicle brakes are designed to hold up under harsh conditions; however, they must be inspected and maintained carefully and consistently to operate and perform properly throughout the vehicle’s life. Improperly installed or poorly maintained brake systems can reduce the braking capacity and stopping distance of trucks and buses, posing a serious risk to driver and public safety.

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According to the CVSA , agencies devote a week to conducting commercial motor vehicle inspections, identifying brake violations, and removing vehicles with out-of-service brake violations because:

  • Brake system and brake adjustment violations accounted for more vehicle violations than any other vehicle violation category, accounting for 38.6% of all vehicle out-of-service conditions, during last year’s three-day International Roadcheck inspection and enforcement initiative.
  • “Brake system” was the third most cited vehicle-related factor in fatal commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle crashes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) latest “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts”  report .
  • Brake-related violations accounted for eight out of the top 20 vehicle violations in 2020, according to FMCSA’s  Motor Carrier Management Information System .
  • During last year’s  Brake Safety Week , 12% of the 43,565 commercial motor vehicles inspected were placed out of service for brake-related violations.

Trimble, a leader in transportation, suggests the following tips to prepare your fleet for Brake Safety Week:

  1. Make sure you take your time to do good and thorough pre-and post-trip inspections, paying particular attention to the braking system components. The pre and post trip inspections should be listed on your company’s Job Safety Analysis or Activity Hazard Analysis.
  2. Test for air leaks. Perform a brake application at 90 to 100 psi, then conduct a walk-around inspection and listen for audible air leaks. As noted above, the roadside inspector will test the low air warning device and, if a leak is detected, will measure the air loss rate. While conducting the walk-around inspection, look for loose, damaged or chafed hoses.
  3. Examine your brake shoes for cracks and wear and make sure they meet minimum lining thickness requirements.
  4. If the fleet policy allows, measure your brake stroke to ensure that pushrod travel is within the stroke limits.
  5. Ensure your ABS malfunction lamp is operating correctly.
  6. Remember while operating your truck to leave plenty of following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. In addition, many factors impact your stopping ability besides the condition of your braking system like road and weather conditions, whether the vehicle is loaded or empty, tire pressure, temperature and tread wear, and speed, among others.
  7. “Brakes are one of the most important systems in a vehicle,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “Failure of any component of a brake system could be catastrophic. Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles.”

Training your drivers on your company’s commercial motor vehicle Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) educates drivers on the importance of a pre-trip safety inspection. The list below, developed by the Compliance Navigation Specialists , covers some safety items to include on your pre-trip commercial motor vehicle Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) :

  • Air brake chamber
  • Brake hoses and tubing
  • Cotter pins
  • Clevis pins
  • Slack adjuster
  • Air lines

Industry-wide efforts like Brake Safety Week play a crucial role in promoting safety across transportation, and having the right fleet safety management program, like JSABuilder , can help support your safety efforts throughout the year.

As you prepare your next Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) for commercial motor vehicles, brake safety awareness may be an essential part of your hazard assessment. For JSA software to aid in creating JSA worksheets, visit .

JSAs are a useful tool that can aid the identification of changed conditions, which can help a work team to develop and agree on revised mitigations at their worksite. Those mitigation revisions can then be immediately documented with a management of change (MOC) annotation right on the JSA. That facilitates helping everybody to complete their tasks safely, in an efficient manner. Performing these MOC steps during reviews help to keep all team members engaged in thinking about their current work tasks and help eliminate potential hazards. A JSA worksheet provides employers so much value so inexpensively, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would not use a Job Safety Analysis for every project task.

Go to and test the referenced JSA software for free , and help your team work safely and go home at the end of each work day without harm . Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter @JSABuilder, where we tweet about Health and Safety, post Safety tips, and provide updates on current Health and Safety topics. We also highly recommend that you try one of our other top safety tools at today, where our database-driven Lockout Tagout tool is currently available for a FREE 30-day trial, which will allow you to manage your lock out tag out program from start to finish. Easily enter your workers, equipment and procedures to build an entire LOTO program . Save time and money using LOTOBuilder and help your workers to work safe.

Note: images, links, brands discussed or displayed in this article are not endorsements or recommendations. They are for illustration of various products and types of products. JSABuilder does not recommend products, does not endorse, or express any opinion as to the applicability to any given use case or job hazard. Again, consult your safety professional to obtain authoritative opinions on applicability, selection and fitting of all the various types of PPE, then work smart and safe.