How Semi Truck Brake Systems Can Cause Accidents

Semi truck brake systems require proper installation, regular maintance, and responsible use or they can contribute to serious accidents on the road. Due to their size and weight, 18-wheelers are both hard to control and hard to stop, and even minor mistakes behind the wheel can lead to complete loss of control.

But, the risks are even greater when a semi truck’s brake system fails.

Brake system failures are far more common than they should be. While manufacturers and trucking companies are supposed to ensure that their trucks are safe for the road, they often fail to do so. Both defects from the manufacturing facility and issues caused by inadequate maintenance can (and do) lead to serious and fatal truck accidents on Arkansas’s roads.

5 Ways that Semi Truck Brake Systems Cause Serious and Fatal Accidents 

Semi truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Why are accidents involving semi truck brake system failures so common? Part of the reason is that there are lots of things that can go wrong. Semi truck brake systems are complex, and they are put under enormous stress when trucks are driving at highway speeds with full cargo loads. Some examples of the issues that can (and do) lead to semi truck brake system failures include: 

1. Improper Brake Installation

One of the most common causes of semi truck brake system failure is improper brake installation. There are specific processes and procedures for installing each component of a semi truck’s brake system—and, if these processes and procedures are not strictly followed, this can lead to failure. Improper brake installation can happen both during a truck’s initial assembly and during routine brake maintenance.  

2. Worn Brake Pads or Rotors

Semi trucks’ braking systems work by squeezing a brake rotor (a metal disk that sits behind the wheel) with brake pads that are affixed to a caliper (a device operated by air pressure applied when the driver presses the brake pedal in the cab). Brake pads and rotors both wear down over time. As a result, both need to be replaced regularly—especially when semi trucks are covering hundreds of miles per day. 

If worn brake pads or rotors aren’t replaced when they should be, they will eventually fail. When the driver presses the brake pedal, the truck won’t stop as quickly as he or she is expecting, and this will leave the driver helpless to avoid a collision. 

3. Air System Failures 

While most cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs have hydraulic brake lines, most semi trucks’ braking systems rely on air pressure to squeeze the calipers onto the rotors. If there are any failures in the air system, this can prevent a truck’s brakes from working at all. Loose hoses, malfunctioning compressors, malfunctioning valves, leaks, and various other issues can all lead to sudden and unexpected loss of a semi truck’s braking capability. 

4. Corrosion and Other Issues 

Along with brake pad and rotor wear, various other maintenance-related issues can lead to semi truck brake system failures as well. For example, corrosion from rain, snow, salt, and various other sources can all cause the components of a semi truck’s braking system to gradually fail. Cracks due to age, sun exposure, and other issues are common causes of brake failures as well—as are several other issues that can (and should) be avoided with proper maintenance. 

5. Insufficient Braking Strength for a Truck’s Load Capacity 

Another common cause of brake system failure on semi trucks is insufficient braking strength for a truck’s load capacity. A truck’s brake rotors, pads, calipers, and lines all need to be the right size and strength for the loads that the truck will be carrying. If a truck is equipped with insufficient brake system components (whether from the factory or due to negligent maintenance service), this can also leave the truck’s driver unable to avoid an accident when things go wrong. 

Likewise, if a semi truck is overloaded (which is another common cause of truck accidents), this can prevent the truck from stopping safely as well. If a truck is carrying more cargo than it is supposed to, the weight of the truck’s load can overpower its braking system, causing the system to fail. 

Talk to an Arkansas Truck Accident Lawyer for FREE

Oliver Law Firm proudly represents victims and families following serious and fatal truck accidents throughout Arkansas. If you need help after a collision with an 18-wheeler, we can explain everything you need to know, and we can get to work immediately to fight for the financial compensation you and your family deserve. 

Contact Oliver Law Firm today online or at 479-202-5200 for a FREE case evaluation with an experienced truck accident lawyer. We welcome clients from across Arkansas and throughout the United States from our office in Rogers, AR.