Runaway truck ramp in arizonaDid you know that brake failure accounts for about 300,000 automobile accidents every year? That’s a startling statistic and all the more reason to make sure your brakes work as they should.

As a professional truck driver, you spend much more time on the road than the average American. So it’s important you know how to spot the warning signs of brake trouble early on. You don’t have to do any guesswork, either. With a little education and preventive maintenance, you can significantly lower your risk of brake failure.

1.) Use low gears on mountain roads. Here in the Western U.S., there are hundreds of thousands of miles of mountainous roads. Although this makes for breathtaking scenery, it also puts a toll on your rig’s brake system. In order to avoid overheating or complete brake failure, it’s critical that you participate in truck driving best practices. You can significantly lower your risk by switching to lower gears on downgrades. If you find yourself needing to brake more than usual and notice that your brakes are heating up, don’t be afraid to pull over and take a break. After an hour or two, you can continue heading toward your destination.

2.) Perform regular inspections. Whenever you stop to refuel, take a few moments to inspect your brake system. This includes your brake pads and brake fluid. If your brake fluid is dark in color, it’s time for a flush and refill. It’s time to replace your brake pads if you notice that there’s less than a quarter-inch visible. It’s also important to schedule a professional brake inspection at least once a year or every six months. Your fleet manager probably already does this, but it’s good to be aware just in case.

3.) Drive at (or slightly below) the speed limit. The faster you drive, the more likely you are to need your brakes. Additionally, if you have to slam on the brakes, you put the pads under much greater duress. As a trucker, you have places to go and deliveries to make, but safety should be your top priority. Don’t be afraid to slow down to protect yourself and your cargo.

By following these three simple tips, you can keep your truck’s brakes functioning as they should. If you have any additional brake safety tips, please share them with us on our Facebook page.