Bendix suggests tips for CVSA Brake Safety week

Company supports efforts of operation air brake, offers advice on readying for inspections.

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC supports the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Brake Safety Week campaign and inspections, taking place Sept. 8-14. Also known as Operation Air Brake, the effort is aimed at reducing the number of highway crashes caused by improperly maintained or faulty braking systems, and employs teams of CVSA-certified inspectors to conduct roadside checks of commercial vehicles and their drivers.

The program targets commercial vehicles in the United States and Canada, and is conducted in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). According to CVSA, more than 32,500 vehicles were checked in 2012 during Operation Air Brake, which covered Brake Safety Week and an unannounced inspection date in May.

"Bendix shares CVSA's commitment to Brake Safety Week and its goals of improving vehicle maintenance and inspection, which help keep roadways and commercial vehicles safe for everyone," said Fred Andersky, Bendix director of government and industry affairs. "By emphasizing proper training and upkeep practices, Operation Air Brake provides a valuable reminder of the importance of successful inspections in today's CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) environment."

In preparation for Brake Safety Week, Bendix recommends that fleets and drivers familiarize themselves with the CVSA inspection requirements and procedures. Operation Air Brake targets six items for inspection: driver's license, registration, low air warning device, pushrod travel (adjustment), brake linings/drums, leaks/air loss rate, and tractor protection system.

In addition to emphasizing regularly scheduled preventive maintenance and pre-trip inspections, Bendix stresses the importance of proper replacement components, air system management, and ongoing technician and driver education. 

Replacement Friction Matters

When regular maintenance or pre-trip inspections point to a need for friction replacement, it's important to recognize the impact that friction selection has on safety and brake performance, noted Gary Ganaway, director of marketing and global customer solutions for Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC (BSFB).

"With the federal Reduced Stopping Distance (RSD) mandate now in full effect, fleets need to pay close attention to the issue of replacement brake lining performance and RSD compliance," Ganaway said. "Because not all replacement friction marketed as acceptable under RSD will actually perform to the standard, fleets should ask for evidence of compliance from their friction supplier when replacing the friction on their RSD-equipped trucks."

To support this point, Bendix compared the stopping distance performance of various linings on high performance drum brakes. The company measured the 60 mph stopping distance of a mandate-compliant vehicle with OEM brakes and high performance linings. Bendix then replaced the friction with multiple non-high performance original equipment and aftermarket materials that had passed the FMVSS 121 dyno test, but were not suitable for mandate compliance.

With nothing else changed, the vehicle's stopping distance increased from 215' using the high performance friction to 311' with the worst-performing aftermarket replacement friction – a stunning 45 percent decrease in performance. That 96' difference in stopping distance – a total of five passenger car lengths – is a stark illustration of roadway safety at stake.

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