A new study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems could reduce accidents where a truck rear-ends another vehicle by 40%.
The trucking industry can sometimes be slow to adopt new technology. The price of purhasing a truck is high for owner-operators and trucking companies, and many drivers find themselves in existing long-term lease agreements.
The trucking business must always balance the potential to save lives with the financial motive. So should these systems become mandatory in trucks going forward?
Preventing 40% of Crashes
According to the study, if semi-trucks were equipped with the aforementioned technology, two out of every five accidents in the report could have been prevented. For other collisions, the safety features could have resulted in truck drivers having more time to react, which would reduce damage and injuries.
As a result of their findings, the IIHS is requesting both safety features be added to new semi-trucks and retrofitted where possible. Although the upfront cost to equip these potentially life-saving gear is pricey for a whole fleet, the benefits are numerous:
- Save truckers’ lives
- Prevent semi-truck related fatalities
- Reduce injuries to passengers and fellow drivers
- Lower the amount of property damage inflicted during an accident
- Eliminate nearly half of all semi-truck rear-end collisions
According to Eric Teoh, Director of Statistical Services, “This is important information for trucking companies and drivers who are weighing the costs and benefits of these options on their next vehicles”.
What Data Was Used in the Study
Of course, statistics can be manipulated to show a specific outcome even if the result of analysis does not reflect the overall picture accurately. That said, the IIHS study looks to be incredibly thorough with recent data.
The IIHS collected crash-related data from 2017 to 2019. The information was provided by 62 different trucking companies, each using either tractor-trailers or trucks weighing over 33,000 lbs.
After traveling 2 billion miles, about 2,000 incidents were reported, and 800 of those accidents would have been prevented via automatic emergency braking and forward collision warnings.
What Does the Industry Think?
After the IIHS study was completed, the report was issued to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The FMCSA stated they would prefer to encourage the voluntary use of the systems, whereas the NHTSA has reported additional research into the topic is being done.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) stated the tech should be required after truckers utilize the equipment on their own terms to determine the validity of the gear.
The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) rejected the findings on the grounds that other metrics, such as training, experience, and safety records were not factored in.
Currently, the United States does not require automatic emergency braking or forward collision warnings, and a new regulation likely isn’t coming soon. The European Union has made the potentially life-saving equipment mandatory on new semi-trucks since 2013. According to one report, over 5,000 road-related fatalities were reduced by making the safety gear mandatory.