Watching a semitruck approach in your rearview mirror can be unnerving. It can be particularly scary when you are traveling down a steep hill. You would be wise to exercise extreme caution under these circumstances because almost 30 percent of all semitruck crashes result from their air-brake systems failing.
According to Transport Topics, air-brake failure, which often occurs when a commercial truck is traveling down a steep hill, contributes to 29.4 percent of all commercial truck wrecks. Air-brake systems are prone to failing in at least two ways.
Air-brake failure due to system malfunctions
A steady and constant stream of air is necessary for air brakes to function properly. In some cases, brake systems malfunction and something inhibits this stream of air from coming through. When this occurs, the brakes may automatically apply or lock and fail to respond to the driver.
Air-brake failure due to driver error or inexperience
Truckers should never rely on the air-brake system alone to slow their fast-moving trucks. Inexperienced truck drivers are more prone to overusing their brakes than more experienced professionals, and in doing so, they increase the chances of the brakes overheating or catching on fire.
Instead of hitting the brakes hard, truck drivers should use them sporadically to slow their heavy vehicles. When possible, they should also use jake brakes to slow their speed while navigating downhill.