Nearly every motorist has seen just how dangerous semi-trucks can be. Just look around on your daily commute down Highway 2 to Baltimore — chances are you will see a large truck pulled over at some point, and perhaps the remnants of a deadly crash. These monstrous vehicles are necessary for American trucking and commerce, but present significant dangers to drivers and pedestrians alike.
Thankfully, engineers work to improve truck safety with new technology and equipment. Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) published findings from their study on the impact of new safety technologies on America’s trucks.
Research on two developing technologies
The IIHS research team examined trucking data from 2017 to 2019. The data included over 2,000 crashes from 62 trucking companies covering two billion miles of American roads. Researchers looked at how two newer safety technologies, forward collision warning and emergency braking systems, impacted crash frequency and severity.
Overall, the IIHS found that forward collision warning and emergency braking systems could prevent up to 40% of crashes where the semi hits the rear of another vehicle. When crashes occurred, the systems reduced the trucks’ speed by half, minimizing both damage and the severity of injuries. Additionally, the team found that trucks with forward collision warning had 22% fewer crashes than those without and trucks with emergency braking experienced 12% fewer crashes.
Federal lawmakers to review the findings
The IIHS has helped federal lawmakers establish safety regulations for motor vehicles across the country. IIHS research inspired modern-day seatbelt laws, their crash tests set safety standards industry-wide and few people challenge their 70-year reputation. The IIHS recommends that the federal government require all fleet operators and independent truckers to include the new technologies going forward. This law would mirror a 2013 resolution in the European Union mandating similar tech on their trucks.
Despite the promising figures, some independent motor vehicle agencies push back against new regulations. The American Automobile Association (AAA) does not believe the tech works consistently enough to require its use. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) thinks the study overlooked personal safety records, training and experience.
New laws aim to save lives
If the federal government requires new trucks to include this tech in the future, new laws will regulate their implementation and use. Crashes that occur after the new laws could have larger implications for fleet operators who neglected to install the equipment. Those involved in a truck accident find more success in protecting their individual rights with a lawyer’s help.