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What Is Jake Braking?

Our Cincinnati Truck Accident Lawyers at Wolterman Law Office Represent Truck Accident Victims

Jake brakes are another name for a compression engine braking system. In addition to the traditional brakes that truck drivers use to slow down or come to a complete stop, Jake brakes provide an additional supplemental braking system that can preserve the life of the brakes and tires if used correctly. However, when Jake brakes are engaged, they make a very loud noise caused by the compressed air being pushed out of the exhaust. As a result, the use of Jake brakes is prohibited in certain areas. In addition, truck drivers should avoid using them during inclement weather when roads become slippery, as this can increase the risk of a serious truck accident. If you or a loved one are injured in a truck accident involving the improper use of Jake brakes, you are urged to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.

How Do Jake Brakes Work?

Also known as the Jacobs Engine Brake, this braking system is a diesel engine retarder that uses the engine to help the truck driver reduce the speed and maintain control. The Jake brake is enabled once the truck driver flips an engine brake switch and takes the pressure off the accelerator. The engine brake is deactivated when the driver uses the accelerator or clutch. When activated, the engine brake alters the operation of the engine’s exhaust valves, so the engine works as a power-absorbing air compressor. This causes the wheels to slow down without having to use the service brakes, which can preserve the life of the brakes, reduce the frequency of brake maintenance, and lower the total cost of ownership.

What Are Some of the Advantages of Jake Brakes?

Jake brakes help truck drivers slow down when traditional brakes are insufficient, including driving down a steep hill or on freeway off-ramps. The following are examples of additional benefits of using Jake brakes:

  • Helps maintain a controlled speed, particularly on downgrades.
  • Reduces the wear and tear on the wheel brakes.
  • May help reduce stopping times in certain situations.
  • Reduces service brake fade or overheating.
  • Lower vehicle maintenance costs.

Are There Safety Hazards Associated With Jake Brakes?

Large commercial trucks are massive in size and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. While Jake brakes are meant to provide an additional braking method, if the braking system is not used properly, there is an increased risk of a devastating truck accident. For example, if a truck driver uses their standard brakes and their Jake brakes at the same time, it can cause the truck to slow down too quickly. This can cause a jackknife accident when the trailer folds in on itself, forming a 90-degree angle. If there are other vehicles in the vicinity, this can cause a catastrophic accident involving life-threatening injuries and fatalities.

Jake brakes are also very loud. While this is not necessarily an obvious safety hazard, it can be irritating when truck drivers use them in residential areas or cities close to interstate highways. Some cities have laws that prohibit the use of Jake brakes. Truck drivers who ignore these laws may face fines and jail time. There are exceptions to the bans on Jake brakes, including emergencies that warrant the use of Jake brakes. The loud noise may also cause other motorists in the vicinity to become startled and swerve into another lane or slam the brakes, which can also increase the risk of a truck accident.

What Are the Laws Against Jake Brakes?

Truck drivers have a responsibility to obey the rules of the road, as well as the laws against using Jake brakes, which include the following:

  • Many municipalities across the United States have enacted laws prohibiting the use of Jake brakes within or near residential areas. Truck drivers are responsible for being familiar with which municipalities have laws against using Jake brakes.
  • Street signs will be posted in the municipalities where Jae braking is prohibited. In some cases, the signs may reference Jake braking directly. However, signs that say “No Engine Braking” or “No Compression Braking” mean the same thing, and truck drivers should understand that these signs mean they may not engage the Jake brakes.
  • The laws against Jake braking were implemented to prevent noise pollution. While the noise has been compared to a large lawnmower, which may not be particularly disruptive during the daytime when some other noises and sounds may drown out some of the noise, it can be extremely loud and startling during the quieter times of the, including late at night and early in the morning.

What Should I Do if I am in a Truck Accident Caused by Jake Braking?

If you were seriously injured in a truck accident, and the truck driver failed to use the braking system correctly, there are steps you should take to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you get the medical attention you need:

  • If you can safely move, call 911 to report the accident and notify dispatch that you have been injured so they can send an ambulance to the scene. When the ambulance arrives, get immediate medical attention for your injuries, even if they seem relatively minor.
  • Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, and any debris or skid marks on the road.
  • If there were witnesses, ask if they would be willing to provide a statement. Exchange information with the truck driver, but keep the conversation limited to the exchange of information.
  • Contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to protect your legal and financial rights.

Our Cincinnati Truck Accident Lawyers at Wolterman Law Office Represent Truck Accident Victims

If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident caused by Jake braking, do not hesitate to contact our Cincinnati truck accident lawyers at Wolterman Law Office. We will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible for causing the accident. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 513-488-1135 or contact us online. Our office is in Loveland, Ohio, where we serve clients in Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.