A giant, heavy vehicle like a semitruck poses a lot of challenges for engineers. Namely, how do you get this giant vehicle to stop as quickly as possible to avoid car accidents? Because of the size and weight of these vehicles, truck designers have created a special kind of braking system called "air brakes."
These kinds of breaks are better for large trucks, such as 18-wheelers, because they have so many wheels. Without air brakes, the driver could not apply equal pressure simultaneously to all of the brakes. However, the owners of semitrucks must regularly maintain the complicated air braking systems on these vehicles, or they will face the risk of a fatal or injurious accident caused by brake failure.
How do air brakes work?
Using air as a braking system allows all of the braking units to work in unison, so the driver can control all of the brakes on each wheel from the cabin. Such a braking system simply would not be possible if big trucks used a hydraulic fluid.
Another important benefit of air braking systems is the emergency, automatic braking mechanism that stops a trailer if it disconnects from the cabin. As is stated in semitruck safety regulations, "Every motor vehicle, if used to tow a trailer equipped with brakes, shall be equipped with a means for providing that in the case of a breakaway of the trailer, the service brakes on the towing vehicle will be capable of stopping the towing vehicle."
The 3 types of brakes on a semitruck
There are three primary systems that make up a semitruck's ability to stop:
- The service brake system operated by the brake pedal while the semitruck driver is operating his or her truck.
- The parking brake that the driver activates via the parking brake control.
- The emergency braking system that activates in situations where the brake system fails. Emergency braking system utilizes both the service and parking brake systems to bring the semitruck to a stop via whatever means possible.
When a transportation company fails to maintain its brakes
Numerous catastrophic and fatal semitruck accidents happen every year due to a semitruck company's failure to maintain the brakes on its vehicle. For this reason, commercial truck accident victims may want to investigate the semitruck brake maintenance logs following an injurious collision. Data that shows the company failed to maintain its brakes could support a victim's personal injury claims.