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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-97-031
Details
Synopsis: ABOUT 3:25 P.M. A 1988 MACK TRUCK WITH A CONCRETE MIXER BODY WAS UNABLE TO STOP AS IT APPROACHED A "T" INTERSECTION AT THE BOTTOM OF AN EXIT RAMP IN PLYMOUTH MEETING, PENNSYLVANIA. AS THE TRUCK PROCEEDED THROUGH THE INTERSECTION, IT COLLIDED WITH & OVERRODE A 1985 SUBARU PASSENGER CAR. THE SUBARU DRIVER WAS KILLED; THE TRUCKDRIVER SUSTAINED MINOR INJURIES. THE TRUCKDRIVER WAS UNRESTRAINED; THE SUBARU DRIVER WAS FOUND RESTRAINED IN HER VEHICLE. THE WEATHER WAS CLEAR & DRY. NO FIRE ENSUED, & NO OTHER VEHICLE OCCUPANTS WERE INVOLVED IN THE ACCIDENT.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: In cooperation with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, develop an inspection protocol that could be easily administered by inspection personnel for detecting either reversed air brake lines or inoperative low-air-pressure warning switches on commercial vehicle equipped with dual air brake systems.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Plymouth Meeting, PA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: NRH96FH009
Accident Reports: Truck Loss of Braking Contol on Steep Downgrade and Collision with a Vehicle
Report #: HAR-97-02-SUM
Accident Date: 4/25/1996
Issue Date: 10/29/1997
Date Closed: 1/7/2003
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FMCSA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 1/7/2003
Response: The Safety Board acknowledges the work that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has done to improve the safety of commercial vehicles, especially in relation to commercial vehicle brake systems. The Board is aware that the current North American Uniform Driver-Vehicle Inspection Procedure includes inspecting the low-pressure warning device on air-braked vehicles. If a warning device is missing or inoperative, the vehicle is placed out of service until the warning device is repaired. However, the current inspection procedure does not require checking for reversed air brake lines. The Safety Board recognizes that checking for reversed air brake lines or inoperative low-air-pressure warning switches on commercial vehicles equipped with dual air brake systems will involve an increase in the amount of time needed to perform a Level 1 inspection. Current technology and practice dictates that inspectors would have to identify the make and model of each valve and the manner in which it is installed, and trace the air lines valve-to-valve, valve-to-brake chamber, and valve-to-reservoir. The FMCSA has chosen, at this time, not to require or recommend this practice. The FMCSA asserts that one alternative to checking for reversed air lines on commercial vehicles is to work with the industry to improve heavy truck brake mechanic training. To facilitate this process, the FMCSA developed and distributed a Brake Training Resource Directory in 1998. In addition, the FMCSA has been active in promoting improved brake maintenance practices with the CVSA and other partners. The Safety Board is also aware that the FMCSA actively encourages the use of performance-based brake testers, devices that assess the braking capability of a vehicle through a quantitative measure of individual wheel brake forces or overall brake performance in a controlled test. The Safety Board considers the FMCSA's efforts, in conjunction with industry, to improve brake maintenance practices an acceptable alternate approach to the intent of the recommendation. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation H-97-31 is classified CLOSED -- ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 8/15/2002
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 08/22/2002 4:20:54 PM MC# 2020780 - Joseph M. Clapp, Administrator: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as the U.S. Department of Transportation agency responsible for providing safety oversight to operators of interstate commercial motor carriers of freight and passengers, recognizes that serious safety problems can arise as a result of reversed air lines or inoperative low-air-pressure warning switches on air-braked commercial motor vehicles. However, the agency believes there are alternatives to developing a new roadside inspection protocol for routine use. The current North American Uniform Driver-Vehicle inspection Procedure includes inspecting the low-pressure warning device on air-braked vehicles. If the warning device is missing, inoperative, or does not operate at 55 psi and below or at one-half of the governor cutout pressure, whichever is less, the vehicle is placed out of service until the warning device is repaired. Checking for reversed air lines or improperly installed valves would involve an increase in the amount of time needed to perform a Level 1 inspection. Inspectors would have to identify the make and model of each valve and the manner in which it is installed, and trace the air lines valve-to-valve, valve-to-brake chamber, and valve-to-reservoir. Although most experienced CVSA-certified inspectors have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform this task, the process would be time consuming and difficult in a roadside setting. The result would be a decrease in the number of Level 1 inspections, which in turn would decrease the number of opportunities FMCSA and the States have to remove from highway operation unsafe vehicles with more common brake-related defects. FMCSA did explore the possibility of developing a vehicle inspection protocol that could be used in the context of a special study. We worked with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin to draft such a protocol. However, limitations in agency resources prevented us from moving forward with the special study. FMCSA believes a highly effective alternative to solving the problem of brake maintenance and repair errors is to work with the industry to improve heavy truck brake mechanic training. On March 27, 1997, the agency published a notice requesting information from companies and organizations that offer to the motor carrier industry training courses and training material concerning the maintenance of heavy truck and bus brake systems (62 FR 14717, copy enclosed). The information was used to develop a brake training resources directory to assist motor carriers in identifying companies or organizations that provide personnel training and/or training material that could be useful in helping motor carriers improve their brake maintenance programs. This action is a follow-up to research conducted by the Trucking Research Institute (TRT) (under contract to the FMCSA) to study methods of improving the training of heavy truck mechanics. We enclose a copy of the directory, published in the spring of 1998. (We provided a copy of the draft directory to the NTSB in January 1998, and several copies of the printed directory to NTSB staff, most recently in July 2002). In addition to publishing the directory, FMCSA has been actively involved in promoting improved brake maintenance practices. The agency participated in the September 2000 North American Brake Safety Conference jointly sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, and the Ontario Trucking Association. FMCSA has also participated actively in other brake-related safety forums sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. FMCSA actively encourages the use of performance-based brake testers (PBBTs). A PBBT is a device that assesses the braking capability of a vehicle through quantitative measure of individual wheel brake forces or overall brake performance in a controlled test. Although it cannot replace the skill of an inspector, a PBBT can provide a rapid, objective, and consistent measure of vehicle braking performance. On August 9, 2000, FMCSA proposed to amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to establish pass/fail criteria for use with PBBTs. Accompanying the proposal were final functional specifications for PBBTs to serve as a guideline for States to ensure a certain level of PBBT accuracy and performance. On August 9, 2002, the FMCSA issued a final rule on the pass/fail criteria. We enclose copies of these three documents. Over the last decade, there have also been a number of significant changes in brake safety regulations, inspection programs, and fleet operating practices that have produced significant decreases in brake defects noted in the course of roadside inspections. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of brake out-of-service violations dropped by 72 percent, and the proportion of brake out-of-service violations discovered in all roadside inspections dropped by 82 percent. When we consider that many States have changed their inspection practices to concentrate on commercial motor vehicles with potential equipment defects (rather than selecting vehicles at random), the national picture of brake performance improvement may be even better than our inspection data indicates. We enclose a paper prepared by FMCSA staff for the Third International Truck and Bus Research and Policy Symposium that describes these evolutionary changes in more detail.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 8/13/1998
Response: 7/30/98, followup meeting on recommendation status

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 4/15/1998
Response: The Board understands that the FHWA is developing a brake training resource directory to assist motor carriers in improving their brake maintenance program. We also support FHWA's efforts to issue an "on guard" notice to remind carriers of the importance of proper brake maintenance. On 3/18/98, Board staff met with representatives of both the FHWA & National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to discuss the facts & circumstances of the Plymouth meeting accident. All parties agreed that the inspection of low-air-pressure warning switches is a critical issue. In that regard, the FHWA, Office of Motor Carrier Safety, will conduct a special roadside inspection of low-air-pressure warning switches later this summer. This inspection of low-air-pressure warning switches will help determine whether a significant number of trucks equipped with dual-air-brake-systems nationwide have undetected air brake deficiencies similar to those found on the accident truck. We look forward to receiving a further response on this recommendation & copies of the final brake training resource directory & the on-guard bulletin. H-97-31 is classified OPEN – ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 1/30/1998
Response: MC# 980112: - Kenneth R. Wykle, Administrator: From FHWA believes an effective alternative to solving the problem of brake maintenance/repair errors is to work with the industry to improve heavy truck brake mechanic training. On 3/27/97, the FHWA published a notice requesting info from companies & organizations that offer, to the motor carrier industry, training courses & training material concerning the maintenance of heavy truck & bus brake systems (62 FR 14717). The info is being used to develop a brake training resources directory to assist motor carriers in identifying companies or organizations that provide personal training &/or training material that could be useful in helping motor carriers improve their brake maintenance programs. This action is a follow-up to research conducted by the Trucking Research Institute (TRI) (under contract to the FHWA) to study methods of improving the training of heavy truck. The directory will be published by May 1998.