NTSB Warns Trucking Companies of Air Brake Dangers
Date: 04.04.2008 - 12:28
Category: Tourism, Cars, Traffic
Press release from: The Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, P.C.
Agency: Androvett Legal Media
Manually Adjusting Automatic Slack Adjusters Can Lead to Deadly Consequences
by Steven C. Laird
Federal safety officials have warned hundreds of thousands of heavy truck operators, drivers, mechanics, and federal and state
commercial vehicle inspectors about the dangers of manually adjusting automatic air brake components.
The National Transportation Safety Board report, issued earlier this year, provides 11 safety recommendations that highlight
the dangers of overriding automatic slack adjusters on heavy trucks and similar vehicles. The report states that the manual
adjustment of this brake component masks the real reason why the brakes are not maintaining adjustment, giving the driver a
false sense of security about the effectiveness of the brakes. A manual override also causes abnormal wear to the internal
mechanisms for most automatic slack adjusters, which may lead to brake failure.
The warning comes as a result of an NTSB investigation into a fatal runaway dump truck accident in Glen Rock, Penn. In the
2003 accident, the driver of a dump truck traveling on a steep downgrade was unable to stop his vehicle. The truck struck four
passenger cars, one of which injured three children on a nearby sidewalk. A driver and an 11-year-old child in one of the cars
The NTSB concluded that the mechanics who worked on the dump truck misdiagnosed the brake problems, probably because
they were not properly trained on the function and care of automatic slack adjusters and how they relate to the overall brake
system. Consequently, they repeatedly manually adjusted the automatic slack adjusters.
In addition, the NTSB investigation found that lack of knowledge and skills in operating air-braked vehicles played a role in
the accident. The 21-year-old driver of the dump truck had been on the job for less than two weeks, had never driven an air
brake-equipped vehicle before joining the company, and had received no training on how to drive a vehicle with air brakes,
which operate differently from hydraulic brakes on passenger cars.
The NSTB estimates there are more than 8 million vehicles on the road equipped with automatic slack adjusters. Every large
truck built since 1994 has been required to have them.
Even organizations that specialize in truck maintenance and repair often provide wrong or inadequate information on
automatic slack adjusters. During the probe into the Pennsylvania accident, investigators found that several private study
guides of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence inadequately cover the maintenance of automatic slack
adjuster-equipped brakes, and some contain incorrect information.
The NTSB found one study guide that wrongly states: “Automatic slack adjusters may require periodic adjustment.” The
NTSB is concerned because many mechanics use the study guides as a source of general maintenance information as well as
for test preparation.
The Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, P.C.
2400 Scott Ave.
Fort Worth, Texas 76103
Press Contact: Mary Stallings, 817-531-3000
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The Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, P.C., is a Fort Worth, Texas, law firm that represents individuals and families in cases
involving personal injury, wrongful death, trucking accidents, medical malpractice, construction site accidents, products
liability and business litigation. You can contact Mr. Laird by phone at 817-531-3000 or 800-448-2889 or via e-mail at
email@example.com. The firm's Web site is www.texlawyers.com.
You can find this press release here
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