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Why is Engine Braking Prohibited for Trucks in Some Areas?

October 7th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Bay & Bay Transportation explores the rules of the road for truck drivers in Minnesota and the Midwest.

If you are a resiEngine Break Prohibiteddential commuter traveling through Wisconsin, Illinois, or Indiana, you may have noticed signs that are aimed at commercial truck drivers. Signs like “Weigh Station Ahead” or “Trucks Keep Right” are common notifications when driving on any interstate. But what does is mean when there is a sign that says “Engine Braking Prohibited” on toll roads and interstates?

There are actually two versions of engine braking. For a typical car, engine braking would be when you let off the gas and natural forces (like gravity and the push back from the engine) slows the speed of your vehicle. When the gas pedal is released, a type of vacuum is made in the throttle, creating a braking effect.

In diesel engines, like those that Bay & Bay Transportation drivers are familiar with, engine braking is a little bit of a different scenario. A compression release brake, also commonly known as a “jake brake,” opens the exhaust valves at the top of the compression stroke, creating a loud noise similar to the firing of a gun.

So what is the point of engine braking for truck drivers? In most cases, it is an effective braking method, creating massive amounts of force. This can extend the life of friction brakes and help drivers maintain better control of their rig. For example, it might be an advantage when driving down a steep or long slope.

Engine braking is prohibited in some areas because of the loud noise it creates. Typically, when an interstate travels near a residential area is when you will see the signs prohibiting the action. Typically, research shows the decibel level to be the same as that of a large lawnmower, but in early morning or late at night, the sound a jake brake causes when engaged can be very disruptive to local communities.

The many signs that say “engine braking prohibited” make it seem like an unsafe practice, but that is not the case. Mostly, engine braking is regulated because of residential areas located close to tolls roads and interstates.

Bay & Bay Transportation is a truck company that you can trust to stay up to date on all the latest laws, regulations, and practices. If you are interested in working for us, please check out the Bay & Bay Driver Opportunities page to apply online!

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Zach Thalman // Jul 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    I always thought the engine brakes were prohibited on some roads because it was loud and people lived nearby. It makes more sense to have the signs around toll areas and weigh stations. It would just mean that they would have to actually use their brakes in those areas as opposed to jake brakes. You just need to make sure that your truck brakes are working correctly.

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