Author Topic: Brake failure = jail time  (Read 8738 times)

Offline bobofthenorth

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Brake failure = jail time
« on: December 28, 2012, 10:42:55 AM »
Here's a couple of links to the same story:,0,1559094.story

I suppose you could argue that the guy is a commercial driver so he will be held to a higher standard than most of us but the fact remains that a jury was prepared to put him in jail for a long time for what he regarded as an unforeseen mechanical failure.  It could also be argued that if we think we are competent to service our brakes then we should also be liable for what happens if they fail.  Anyone who has any doubts about their brake hardware should take this very seriously. 
R.J.(Bob) Evans
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Offline Sam 4106

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2012, 11:26:10 AM »
Thanks for the warning Bob. I wish we knew the full story about this event. With the little information given, the fact that he poured water on the brakes to cool them amounts to negligence in my mind. Overheating of brakes does not equate to mechanical failure. But, it should have been a warning to STOP until repairs were made. Very sad for everyone involved. Lucky for him that I wasn't on the jury.

Good luck, Sam
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Offline Iceni John

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2012, 12:33:55 PM »
The phrase "mechanical failure" keeps getting repeated here.   Are overheated brakes truly a mechanical failure in the strictest sense of the term?   Driver negligence or incompetence, yes, but did something fail to work with absolutely no warning or reason?   It's not like his E-6 valve suddenly snapped in two due to an unseen casting defect from the Bendix factory.

Quite simply, if you choose to drive on steep mountain roads, it's entirely your responsibility to operate your vehicle safely on them, no exceptions.   If you don'y know how to, don't be there in the first place.   Besides, isn't brake overheating covered in the CDL?

Yes, this is something that most of us non-professional and occasional drivers of heavy vehicles should be very aware of.
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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2012, 03:15:28 PM »
For anyone who is interested..... CDL PracticeTest...... good info

Offline Gary LaBombard

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2012, 04:47:18 PM »
Grey Eagle,
Great information for the CDL test, I took both test, of coarse I failed.  :' :-[( So now I know I am not a hot shot bus veteran yet as I have to bone up on my Class "F" test which I have to take for SC if your vehicle is over 26,000 lbs.  Taking this test without studying and not cheating on the test can be eye awakening as well. 

About this accident where the driver is going to Jail, that is one more reason I am so glad I replaced every air brake valve & fitting and converted from DD3 brakes to Spring brakes.  I have learned so much in doing this as well.  My original as purchased air brake system did not have one, not even one fitting that was connected securely to prevent leaks.  Man am I glad I did what I did to correct that.  I am so darn tired though of correcting every freakin thing it isn't funny.  Hell, I have no idea when I will ever get this thing on the road and not have something else to worry about that I did not do.  Oh well, this is part of being a busnut. 

It is manditory in SC for us to have a Class "F" test to drive a vehicle over 26,000 lbs. legally.  The decision is yours to take a chance.  Gotta have a darn licensec driver with you to practice with when you get the "F" class permit, (good grief) and then you have a before trip inspection test as well as a road test.  So who knows how long this will take me now. 

Thanks again Grey Eagle for the link to the CDL test, very eye awakening at my age of 67 to know I don't know as much as I think I do. :-[

Offline Fred Mc

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2012, 05:38:36 PM »
Where I live the logging trucks all have a system to pour water on the brake drums as they descend mountain roads. Its pretty common on all logging trucks.

Offline rusty

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2012, 05:54:37 PM »
When I was in China I noticed that all the single axle trucks where loaded 8 and 10 feet tall with sacks of something and looked very over loaded. One day I seen  the same trucks going down a hill and it looked like smoke was coming off the rear brakes. It was not smoke but steam, they were cooling the brakes with water. My son showed places where they stopped and filled tanks with water to cool there brakes. As we were driving around it was very common to see water stations for this purpose.


Offline luvrbus

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2012, 06:20:01 PM »
 The water cooling method of brakes has been used for years in South America also fwiw
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Offline Just Dallas

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2012, 06:40:34 PM »
One thing to remember, when it comes to a commercial vehicle and 'mostly' private vehicles.....


No if's, and's or but's...

If you are driving it and something goes wrong, it is your fault no matter who does the work.

Happy driving!
I'm just an old chunk of coal... but I'm gonna be a diamond someday.

Offline Boomer

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2012, 08:16:13 PM »
Where I grew up all the log trucks had water cooled brakes in the days before exhaust brakes and Jakes.  The Williams company designed a system that used a big pressurized water tank which was mounted behind the cab.  The water lines sprayed right on the drums of both truck and trailer.  The in cab controls let you select between "truck", "trailer", or "both" and also had a pressure guage.  You normally filled up at a water hole somewhere on the way back to the woods.  Quite a site to see a big load of logs coming off a hill with steam rolling off each wheel.  'dem were 'da days.
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Offline wg4t50

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2012, 03:58:56 AM »
Early 70's our trailers had the wide drums , either 10 or 11 inch, could always see them due to how far they stuck out.  Always good.  I have never seen the water cooled jobs but can see the reason for them.
Today, my coach (30,000 lb) uses both Disk brakes and the Allison 4000R Retarder, only use the foot brake to stop, normal braking is by the retarder, a 6 position lever switch, pull it all the way back, hang on. The only downer is the transmission temp goes up, then the  engine goes up too. Engine temp can go higher going down a mtn then going up.  Like most things it takes a little to learn and get used to it, then you love it.
Love today's safety options
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« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 04:03:07 AM by wg4t50 »
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Offline lostagain

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2012, 06:46:40 AM »
I have never seen or heard about water to cool brakes here in S.E. BC. That would be because it would freeze in the tank and lines before getting to the brakes.

Blackie AB
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Offline DaveNCari

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2012, 07:12:21 AM »
What amazes me is that no one else is horrified that this is a CRIMINAL event...things like this were certainly intended to be handled in the CIVIL Courts... I agree 100% that this person is liable for their actions...the fact that they face JAIL is a horror.....

Coming soon.....need of a bus-friendly RV park.....that values Liberty!

Watch this space....

Offline Rick59-4104

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2012, 08:25:25 AM »
 I agree the driver was part of the problem but the PROBLEMS here run very deep. Apparantly the CDL licensed driver does not speak English or has a limited ability to speak English as he was provided an interpreter at his trail. If the guy cannot communicate in English why would the politicians who write the laws allow the trucking industry to hire him and the company owner or owners who did hire him not be responsible also???? Did he understand the warnings the off duty fireman told him? If the company is hiring non-english speaking drivers do they hire non-english speaking mechanics, safety people and supervisors so there is no communication problems between the drivers and the shop employees?  Does the company he works for have shop mechanics who are pressured to overlook maintaince? Are the drivers pressured to bend the rules? Was he instructed in order to keep his job to take a shortcut that took him down the hill but saved the company a few gallons of  5 dollar a gallon California Diesel? There is a big effort underway today in the trucking industry to shift the blame for any accident down to the lowest level possible. It is easy to say the driver is always the person to blame since he could have refused (and got fired) to drive the truck or the route if he had reservations but in a lot of these cases the blame should be shared with people higher up. It is easy for us to say the driver should have quit or found another company to drive for if he was told to overlook safty issues. (and I will bet big money he was pressured).
 Employee (driver) pay is supply and demand, the more people you qualify to drive the bigger the driver pool becomes and wages are held down.

 I served in the US Navy and the US Army from the 70's up to the 90's and I saw the same effort to push the blame for anything bad or wrong down to the lowest level possible to protect the higher up's, instead of correcting the problem from the top down.  The trucking Industry is one of the biggest political lobbying industries out there today. The trucking industry fought tooth and nail against (unsucessfully) adding the rear underride guards you see on the back of trailers that prevent you and your loved ones from being decapiated if you rearend a big rig, and fought and continue to fight (sucessfully) the same type of guards from being added to the sides of trailers to prevent cars from running under the trailers knowing that several hundred people are and will be killed each year because of the lack of guards. It all comes down to the money. And the fact that 10 out of 12 of the jurors do not see the bigger problem and wanted the guy put away for murder has me wondering how the hell there is a driver left willing to drive in California.....sorry for the long post but this issue hit a nerve.

« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 08:39:13 AM by Rick59-4104 »
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Offline Lin

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Re: Brake failure = jail time
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2012, 09:26:22 AM »
I'm with you Rick.  The driver may bear some responsibility but is primarily a scapegoat.  There is a tendency to want to blame someone and juries, if properly manipulated buy into it.  There was a similar case in Santa Cruz some years ago.  The driver even had stopped at the top of the hill to adjust his brakes, but when someone dies (in this case a child), they feel someone has to pay so everyone can sleep well thinking all is right with the world.

The extreme example of this is the recent case in Italy where several seismologists where sentenced to jail time because they did not predict an earthquake that killed people.
You don't have to believe everything you think.