blog home Truck Accidents Truck Braking Best Practices That Keep Us Safe

Truck Braking Best Practices That Keep Us Safe

By Weston Personal Injury Attorney on March 20, 2023

Row of semi-trucks view from the front

Truck drivers should never rely on their brakes alone to slow them down on a long, downhill slope. When they do so, it can lead to brake failure and preventable accidents. Semi-trucks are long, heavy, and wide, and the loads they are hauling only add to their instability. Using the brakes too much, instead of relying on the braking effect of the engine, can create excessive heat that causes the brakes to fade or fail. This mistake, often made by inexperienced truck drivers, can lead to deadly crashes that cause serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries to others on the road.

Why is it Important for Trucking Companies to Hire Experienced Drivers?

Big rigs are more difficult to operate than passenger vehicles, and they can cause severe injuries in a collision. Experienced truck drivers have spent more time on the road and encountered various driving situations. This gives them the skills necessary to safely handle the challenges of driving a large commercial truck. They are more efficient and better able to manage their time and responsibilities, which means fewer hours of service violations and less driver fatigue. Experienced truckers are more likely to pay attention to their surroundings and less likely to make mistakes that can have deadly consequences for other motorists, pedestrians, or bicyclists.

How Should a Truck Driver Brake While Traveling Downhill?

Proper braking technique is crucial when a large truck is traveling downhill. A truck driver should determine a maximum safe speed for the road and current conditions, put the truck in a low gear, and, using the braking effect of the engine, work to keep the truck at or below the safe speed as follows:

  • Apply the brakes for approximately three seconds – just enough to feel the truck slow down.
  • Release the brakes when the truck’s speed has been reduced to approximately five mph below the safe speed.
  • Repeat the above two steps when natural acceleration has brought the truck back up to the safe speed.

What Can Go Wrong When Truckers Brake Incorrectly?

Hauling a full load, an 18-wheeler can weigh 80,000 pounds or more. Truck brakes use friction to slow or stop the rig. When an inexperienced trucker brakes excessively instead of relying on the engine braking effect to slow the truck down on a downhill slope, heat can build up, causing the brake drums to expand and reducing force of contact with the brake shoes and linings. With continued overuse of the brakes, it can become increasingly difficult to slow down or stop the truck, or the brakes could fail entirely.

Brake failure can cause a truck to rear-end the vehicle ahead or plow into the side of another vehicle in an intersection. Because of the sheer size and weight of a large commercial truck, it can cause severe injuries in a collision with a passenger vehicle. In most cases, it is not the truck driver but the passenger vehicles occupants who are seriously or fatally injured.

How Can an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Help?

If you or your loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by improper braking, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced attorney at Justin Morgan Law as soon as possible. You may have a claim for compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damages. Your lawyer at Justin Morgan Law will need to act quickly to access and preserve the truck’s black box data, which could provide valuable evidence to support your claim.

Posted in: Truck Accidents

“Justin and his team go above and beyond for their clients, always on top of every detail. After an awful accident they made sure I had everything taken car of, from car rental to doctor appointments. Very grateful to have found them during this time.”
- Nicolas Jaime