12% of Trucks Pulled From the Road for Brake Violations During CVSA Brake Safety Week

 In Commercial Trucking Accidents, Trucking Accident

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) recently released data from its announced brake safety enforcement event, Brake Safety Week. As usual, the 2020 results should concern all drivers who share the road with large trucks and buses.

On August 23 through 29, CVSA enforcement personnel inspected more than 40,000 commercial trucks and buses to identify underperforming and non-functional brake systems as well as violations involving antilock braking systems (ABSs). 12% of the trucks and buses inspected were placed out of service (OOS) with critical violations during the event.

A Full Breakdown of Results Shows More than 5,156 Critical Brake Safety Violations

The CVSA’s official results from August Brake Safety Week, as published on the organization’s website, break down as follows:

  • 45 U.S. jurisdictions, seven Canadian jurisdictions, and Mexico’s National Guard and the Ministry of Communications and Transportation participated in the event.
  • CVSA enforcement officials conducted 43,565 inspections — 35,778 in the United States, 1,829 in Canada, and 5,958 in Mexico.
  • 12% (5,156) of all inspections resulted in a truck or bus being placed out of service for critical brake violations. (When inspectors place a vehicle out of service, it means that the vehicle is so unsafe that it can’t be driven on roadways until its safety issues are fixed.)

Not included in the CVSA’s report this year is the number of vehicles placed out of service because inspectors found other safety violations not related to brakes. In previous years, when CVSA did report these figures, brake violations only accounted for slightly more than half of the total number of vehicles placed out of service due to critical safety issues, and many OOS vehicles had more than one safety violation.

Why Brake Violations Are Such a Serious Concern

This year’s 12% failure rate for brake violations indicates that brake safety practices in the trucking industry aren’t substantially improving. It’s yet another piece of data demonstrating that many trucks on the road represent a serious hazard to other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Because large trucks and buses can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, they require a massive amount of braking power to stop in an emergency. When these vehicles fail to stop, the consequences are often disastrous. This means that adequately maintained braking systems are critical to the safety of ordinary drivers who share the roads with tractor-trailers, commercial buses, and other large vehicles. Bad truck brakes usually result from a combination of two factors: improper maintenance and a failure to train truck drivers to recognize brake issues during pre-trip inspections.

12% Is an Unacceptable Brake Violation Rate

The 12% percent failure rate for brake violations during the Brake Safety Week event looks especially bad given the generous criteria that CVSA inspectors use to determine whether a commercial vehicle is fit to remain in service. These standards, which come from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), only identify the most serious commercial vehicle violations that pose an immediate threat to public safety.

The FMCSA’s criteria say that for a truck or bus to be placed out of service with a brake violation, 20% of the vehicle’s brakes must be defective and incapable of stopping the vehicle. In practice, this means that the federal safety standards for brakes are easy to comply with as long as truck and bus companies put up a minimal effort.

RELATED Article: 4 Hidden Causes of Deadly Truck Crashes

The experts who investigate truck crashes agree that brake failures are far too common and continue to cause a high percentage of devastating wrecks. For example, the company Crash Forensics, which performs scientific analysis of motor vehicle crashes, notes on its website that brake failures are one of the most common crash factors its investigators uncover when they study the scenes of truck wrecks. This matches with what we’ve seen at Seattle Truck Law over many years of investigating large truck and bus crashes.

Meanwhile, data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) Large Truck Crash Causation Study shows that trucks with brake safety violations pose a serious threat to other drivers on the road. When FMCSA researchers examined the subset of truck wrecks where the braking capacity of the truck was critical, they found that 45.5 percent of the trucks involved had brake safety violations that should have put the truck out of service.

The failure rate of 12% for brake inspections during Brake Safety Week 2020 shows that the widespread brake safety issues in the trucking industry aren’t improving. The public and the lawmakers who represent them should expect much better, and these troubling brake violation rates are unlikely to improve unless trucking companies are held accountable for their indifference to peoples’ safety.

Contact Truck Wreck Justice If You’ve Been Hurt in a Trucking Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a large truck or bus, Seattle Truck Law’s attorneys are here to help. With years of experience and a sole focus on crashes that involve large commercial vehicles like trucks and buses, our attorneys are powerful advocates for trucking accident victims and won’t hesitate to fight for your rights in court.

Please call us at 866-580-HURT (4878) or complete this brief online form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We can listen to your story and give you an initial assessment of your case at no cost or financial risk to you. We also handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you’ll only pay fees or case expenses if we help you receive financial compensation for your injuries and losses.


Air brake failure analysis. (2016). CrashForensics.com. Retrieved from http://www.crashforensics.com/airbrakefailure.cfm

Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. (2019, August 7). More than 1,600 commercial motor vehicles removed from roadways for critical brake-related violations [press release]. Retrieved from https://www.cvsa.org/news-entry/2019-unannounced-brake-safety-day-results/

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2006, January). Large truck crash causation study (LTCCS) analysis series: Using LTCCS data for statistical analysis of crash risk (Publication #FMCSA-RI-05-037). Washington, D.C.: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Analysis, Research, and Technology Division. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/research-and-analysis/large-truck-crash-causation-study-ltccs-analysis-series-using-ltccs

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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