Brake testers measure a vehicle’s braking effectiveness as it drives over a metal plate. They are used for vehicles that cannot be tested with a roller brake tester, such as vehicles with more than one driving axle permanently engaged.
Brake testers are used to check new vehicles for existing brake defects, verify the effectiveness of repair work, perform regular safety audits, and test vehicles that have been involved in accidents to determine if their brake systems were functioning at the time of the accident.
Brake testers are dynamometers, which are machines that measure the force created by something. Also known as dynos and dynometers, these utilities are most widely used in the measurement of force generated by engines, though some varieties are used to measure the force generated by the grip of a human hand as well as a number of other, more obscure applications.
Brake testers are important tools for maintaining the safety of city streets and highways. Particularly in the case of tractor trailers, which are very large and carry heavy loads, brake testers can mean the difference between a safe journey and death or injuries, product loss and a host of other serious hazards.
As measurement technologies improve, brake testing methods have become more effective and precise. In recent years, the National Transportation Research Center has been working to develop a brake testing system for tractor trailers in hopes of eliminating the estimated 33% of truck-related crashes that are caused by faulty brakes.
This figure, combined with the estimated $3 billion lost annually to truck rollovers (which are often associated with brake failure), provides the imperative for developing new ways of detecting brake deficiencies.
The NTRC hopes to integrate its Multi-Plate Performance-Based Brake Tester with existing weigh station equipment, which would allow for the effective measurement of brake performance without necessitating the addition of new staff at highway weigh stations. This and other similar brake testing systems help keep drivers and property safe.