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2.16.3 – Brake Fading or Failure

Brakes are designed so brake shoes or pads rub against the brake drum or disks to slow the vehicle. Braking creates heat, but brakes are designed to take a lot of heat. However, brakes can fade or fail from excessive heat caused by using them too much and not relying on the engine braking effect.

Brake fade is also affected by adjustment. To safely control a vehicle, every brake must do its share of the work. Brakes out of adjustment will stop doing their share before those that are in adjustment. The other brakes can then overheat and fade, and there will not be enough braking available to control the vehicle. Brakes can get out of adjustment quickly, especially when they are used a lot; brake linings wear faster when they are hot. Therefore, brake adjustment must be checked frequently.

2.16.4 – Proper Braking Technique

Remember: The use of brakes on a long and/or steep downgrade is only a supplement to the braking effect of the engine. Once the vehicle is in the proper low gear, the following are the proper braking techniques:

  • 1. Apply the brakes just hard enough to feel a definite slowdown.
  • 2. When your speed has been reduced to approximately 5 mph below your “safe” speed, release the brakes.
  • 3. When your speed has increased to your “safe” speed, repeat Steps 1 and 2.

For example, if your “safe” speed is 40 mph, you would not apply the brakes until your speed reaches 40 mph. You now apply the brakes hard enough to gradually reduce your speed to 35 mph and then release the brakes. Repeat this as often as necessary until you have reached the end of the downgrade.

Escape Ramps

Escape ramps have been built on many steep mountain downgrades. Escape ramps are made to stop runaway vehicles safely without injuring drivers and passengers. Escape ramps use a long bed of loose, soft material to slow a runaway vehicle, sometimes in combination with an upgrade.

Know the escape ramp locations on your route. Signs show drivers where ramps are located. Escape ramps save lives, equipment, and cargo.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #142 (1 of 3)

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Which of the following describes the proper braking technique for going down a mountain with a safe speed of 40 mph?

  • Press the brake when the truck reaches 35 mph. Hold the brake until the truck slows to 30 mph, then release the brake. Repeat each time the truck speeds up and reaches 40 mph.
  • Press the brake when the truck reaches 35 mph. Hold the brake until the truck slows to 30 mph, then release the brake. Repeat each time the truck speeds up and reaches 40 mph.
  • Press the brake when the truck reaches 45 mph. Hold the brake until the truck slows to 40 mph, then release the brake. Repeat each time the truck speeds up and reaches 45 mph.
  • Press the brake when the truck reaches 40 mph. Hold the brake until the truck slows to 35 mph, then release the brake. Repeat each time the truck speeds up and reaches 40 mph.

For example, if your “safe” speed is 40 mph, you would not apply the brakes until your speed reaches 40 mph. You now apply the brakes hard enough to gradually reduce your speed to 35 mph and then release the brakes. Repeat this as often as necessary until you have reached the end of the downgrade.

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Question #143 (2 of 3)

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Which of the following describes an escape ramp?

  • Escape ramps use a long bed of loose, soft material to slow a runaway vehicle, sometimes in combination with an upgrade
  • Escape ramps are mostly dirt and rarely work well, causing more harm than good. You should avoid escape ramps.
  • Press the brake when the truck reaches 35 mph. Hold the brake until the truck slows to 30 mph, then release the brake. Repeat each time the truck speeds up and reaches 40 mph.
  • Press the brake when the truck reaches 45 mph. Hold the brake until the truck slows to 40 mph, then release the brake. Repeat each time the truck speeds up and reaches 45 mph.

For example, if your “safe” speed is 40 mph, you would not apply the brakes until your speed reaches 40 mph. You now apply the brakes hard enough to gradually reduce your speed to 35 mph and then release the brakes. Repeat this as often as necessary until you have reached the end of the downgrade.

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Question #141 (3 of 3)

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Which of the following is true about brake adjustment?

  • All of these are correct
  • Brakes out of adjustment will stop doing their share before those that are in adjustment. The other brakes can then overheat and fade, and there will not be enough braking available to control the vehicle.
  • Brake fade is affected by the adjustment of the brakes
  • To safely control a vehicle, every brake must do its share of the work
Brake fade is also affected by the adjustment. To safely control a vehicle, every brake must do its share of the work. Brakes out of adjustment will stop doing their share before those that are in adjustment. The other brakes can then overheat and fade, and there will not be enough braking available to control the vehicle. Brakes can get out of adjustment quickly, especially when they are used a lot; brake linings wear faster when they are hot. Therefore, brake adjustment must be checked frequently.
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