Report Finds New Technology Could Dramatically Cut Rear-End Truck Collisions
Few things are as terrifying as being hit from behind by a semi-truck. While rear-end collisions between two cars are often fender benders, crashes involving big rigs weighing up to 80,000 pounds frequently cause serious injuries and deaths. However, a new generation of safety systems on semi-trucks promises to reduce the death toll caused by big rigs on the highways of America.
How New Technology Could Help Prevent Deadly Rear-End Collisions with Trucks
An Associated Press report pointed out safety features such as forward collision warnings and emergency braking could cut rear-end collisions involving semi-trucks by as much as 40%. That is potentially good news in Virginia where rear-end crashes on heavily trafficked trucking highways such as I-81 and I-64 claim lives every year.
Even when crashes were reported, the new technology cut speed before the impact, potentially reducing the seriousness of the potential injuries. The Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group supported by the insurance companies, found the systems cut the speeds in about half of all rear-end crashes.
Although the new safety systems have the potential to cut the death toll on our roads, they are not mandatory on big trucks. The IIHS is asking the federal government to require the systems to be fitted on new vehicles. However, some fleet operators have already added the safety systems to their vehicles, AP reported.
In the study, IIHS Director of Statistical Services Eric Teoh considered data from about 2,000 crashes involving semi-trucks from 62 companies reported from 2017 to 2019. He concluded that forward-collision warning systems cut rear-end crashes by 44%. He said automatic emergency braking systems reduced the collisions by 41%. The technologies cut total crashes by 22% and 12%, respectively.
The study examined about 2,000 crashes that occurred over more than 2 billion miles traveled from 2017 through 2019. It compared trucks from the same companies that were equipped with collision warning technology, automatic emergency braking, and no crash prevention equipment.
Crash prevention systems use radar, cameras, or other sensors to monitor roadways. The AEB (Automatic Emergency Braking) systems automatically engage brakes to prevent or mitigate collisions. The report noted AEB systems are more common in passenger vehicles. While no federal mandate exists for the braking systems, 20 automakers representing 99% of the United States car market have agreed to make AEB standard on virtually all new passenger vehicles by September 1, 2022.
The Institute claims the new technology could help stem a rising tide of serious accidents involving big rigs in the United States. The IIHS points out crashes involving large semi-trucks rose by almost a third since hitting a record low in 2009. It states 4,136 people died in wrecks involving big rigs in 2018, with 119 of the deaths reported in rear-end crashes. The 2018 figure is a 52.6% increase over the 2,893 fatal trucking crashes recorded in 2009.
Teoh said the safety systems have potential cost and benefit advantages for trucking companies that fit them. “This study provides evidence that forward-collision warning and AEB greatly reduce the crash risk for tractor-trailers and other large trucks. That’s important information for trucking companies and drivers who are weighing the costs and benefits of these options on their next vehicles,” he said.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking more closely into the issue of tractor-trailer wrecks when it updates its Large Truck Crash Causation Study. It called for input earlier this year. The previous study that drills down into the causes of big rig wrecks was published in 2006.
FMSCA wants to create a study that will better help the agency as well as its partners in the states. The federal agency stated in Jan. 2020, it will:
- Evaluate wrecks involving large trucks and identify emerging trends.
- Monitor crash trends and highlight the causes and contributing factors.
- Work up effective safety improvement policies and programs for the trucking industry.
At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, our attorneys are well aware of the potentially devastating nature of rear-end trucking accidents. Thousands of semi-trucks access Hampton Roads every day to service the Port of Virginia, the Naval base, or other industries. We are well aware of the challenges faced by truckers who drive long hours, often with little rest. A brief lapse in concentration behind the wheel of a semi-truck can have tragic consequences. Please contact our local truck accident attorneys if you or a family member suffered an injury in a crash.