Why Downhill Grades Are a Crash Risk for Large Trucks

six 18-wheelers driving on a freeway

Because of their size, trucks operate differently when it comes to accelerating and stopping. Although it’s easy for sedans and SUVs to brake while going downhill, it’s not the same for big rigs. The Grewal Law PLLC team is here to discuss how downhill grades are a risk to truckers everywhere.

Dangers Going Downhill

Transportation Topic News did a piece highlighting air brake failure on trucks. CEO of BR Williams, Greg Brown, provided an insight into how these downhill grades drastically affect braking systems. In summary, brake failure downhill can happen in two ways:

  • Air brake failure - A truck’s air brakes may go out if they have been overusing the brake system while traveling downhill.
  • Hot brakes - If pressure is applied on brakes for an extended period, these brakes can get hot and fail, potentially resulting in a fire. This is more common with inexperienced drivers.

Due to friction, brakes can create heat but inevitably fail if relied on too much. Michigan’s commercial driver’s manual suggests drivers shift their transmission into low gear before heading down the hill. Using this proper technique can help save your breaks and potentially save a life.

There is also a portion of the manual dedicated to mountain driving that discusses what happens when brakes get too hot and “fade.” In this event, the driver must apply the brakes harder to get the same stopping power they had initially. If the brakes are used more frequently, it could lead to continued fading, ultimately resulting in not being able to stop at all. To find more advice on navigating big hills, visit page 48, section 2.16.

Truck Accident Attorneys

If you’ve recently been in a truck accident, we advise speaking with our Michigan truck accident attorneys soon. We have the resources and experience to handle some of the most complex truck accident claims. To get started on a consultation, fill out this quick form on our website, or give our office a call at (888) 211-5798.

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