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Safety campaign seeks to put the brakes on truck accidents

Despite what we see in movies, catastrophic events are often triggered by seemingly small problems. Truck accidents are a good example. Most of the time, a truck crash that leads to a 12-car pileup is not the result of a high-speed police chase on the freeway. More often than not, the cause of the crash is something as simple as driver fatigue or bad brakes.

With this in mind, readers will hopefully understand the significance of an annual event coming up next week. "Brake Safety Week" is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance in collaboration with several government transportation agencies. From September 6 through September 12, trucks and buses across the country will be subjected to roadside inspections of their brake systems.

During this week last year, approximately 13,305 commercial vehicles were inspected. Vehicles deemed to have unsafe and/or improperly functioning brakes may be cited and immediately taken out of service. Among all out-of-service violations detected during roadside inspections last year, brake-related violations accounted for nearly half.

If you have no connection to the trucking industry, Brake Safety Week is probably not something you would even be aware of, much less care about. But consider the fact that approximately 4,000 people are killed each year in truck accidents on U.S. roads. Most victims are drivers/passengers in smaller cars and many of the accidents are caused or exacerbated by bad brakes. To the families of these victims, a trucking company's failure to maintain a critical safety feature is nothing short of a death sentence for their loved ones.

As with most increased-enforcement campaigns, inspectors won't be able to check every truck and bus on the roads. But hopefully, this effort will put trucking companies on notice and raise awareness about the importance of properly working truck brakes.

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