Drivesmart: Mandatory brake checks on B.C. highways

Perhaps you saw news coverage of the out-of-control commercial truck collision on the Coquihalla Highway last Friday.

Perhaps you saw news coverage of the out-of-control commercial truck collision on the Coquihalla Highway last Friday.

Witness accounts from the scene speculated that the combination appeared to have lost its brakes and may not have stopped at the mandatory brake inspection pullout nearby.

No doubt this will be either confirmed or disproved when the investigation of the incident is complete.

There are mandatory brake checks before significant grades on many of B.C.’s highways. Drivers of specified vehicles must stop and perform a check of the braking system before they start down the hill. If the air brakes are out of adjustment or any other defects are found, the driver must remedy the problem before proceeding. Hopefully this insures that heavily loaded vehicles don’t lose their brakes and become involved in a collision.

You might be surprised to find out that heavy commercial trucks with air brakes are not the only vehicles required to stop and check brakes at these mandatory check locations. Any truck with a licenced gross vehicle weight over 5,500 kilograms must stop and check, regardless of the type of braking system involved.

This could include a pickup truck towing a large recreational trailer behind it.

Even with a perfectly functional, correctly adjusted braking system, over use of the brakes on a hill can result in a runaway truck.

Experience, anticipation and proper control of vehicle speed through the use of the transmission on hills is critical.

Signs at the check showing distance and grades are priceless information for drivers who have not encountered the hills of British Columbia.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca