Warning to operators to upgrade brake systems

ABS and ESC seen seriously as right options after coroner’s report on road train jack-knife fatality

Warning to operators to upgrade brake systems
Brakes are in the spotlight


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has urged trucking operators to make sure they have effective maintenance programs, particularly for brakes, and to upgrade to antilock braking systems (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) as soon as possible.

The move follows a coroner’s investigation into the death of a motorist on the Warrego Highway in January 2012.

The Association has agitated for the ABS and ESC to be made mandatory nationally.

In his findings, Deputy State Coroner John Lock found that the brakes on the road train combination involved were in an unsatisfactory condition due to poor maintenance, and that the maintenance and service records for the company were "appalling", the ATA has told members.

Combined with a slippery road surface and a lack of ABS in the vehicle, the badly worn and imbalanced brakes caused the road train to jack-knife.

As specific policies are already in place to mandate ABS and ESC in heavy vehicles, Coroner Lock decided not to make a specific recommendation about using these technologies. He did note that ESC can significantly reduce the likelihood of being involved in a loss of control crash.

Coroner Lock noted that the road train was accredited under NHVAS Maintenance. However, the driver had a very low level of literacy and would not have been able to read the manual or properly complete the vehicle service records.

"This advisory procedure was the result of a number of failures of brake actuators that were being supplied to the market that didn’t seem to meet any standards, one particular brand/supply had a failure rate of around 70 per cent in less than six weeks," the ATA states.
"There is no standard as such for compliance, however the replacement must provide performance equivalent to the original which, typically, is tested to various SAE Standards − suppliers were requested to respond on the basis of which brands were tested to which standards − given maintenance personnel a choice for ‘deemed compliance’" in selecting replacements."

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