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Study Shows Prevention for Front Crash Works for Large Trucks Too

Crash-avoidance technology that has been credited with making cars safer on the nation’s highways may offer safety benefits for large trucks as well, a recent study shows.

Outfitting large trucks with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems could eliminate 2 out of 5 rear-end collisions or more, according to research reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). While the technology improves safety, it also adds cost to a new truck.

“The potential benefits are great enough that these crash avoidance systems should be standard equipment on all new large trucks,” IIHS President David Harkey said.

How Front Crashes Happen on Large Trucks

Front-end crashes are an issue for large trucks, which have a blind spot on the front passenger side of the vehicle. The truck driver is seated much higher off the road than automobile drivers. They do not have as clear a view of the road immediately in front of the truck on the passenger side. Depth perception is not as accurate.

Large trucks typically weigh 20 to 30 times as much as automobiles. It’s more difficult for trucks to stop due to their larger size and weight. When they do strike another vehicle from behind, especially a smaller one, the damage is often severe.

Truck Front Crash Statistics

The IIHS study analyzed data on crashes per vehicle mile traveled. Eric Teoh, director of statistical services for IIHS, reviewed data from 62 carriers that operate tractor-trailers and other trucks weighing at least 33,000 pounds.

Teoh found that trucks equipped with forward collision warning systems had 22 percent fewer crashes and trucks with automatic emergency braking systems had 12 percent fewer crashes than those without either technology. These safety technologies reduced rear-end crashes — the specific type of collision they’re designed to prevent — by 44 and 41 percent, respectively.

Overall, Teoh’s study covered some 2,000 crashes occurring over more than 2 billion vehicle miles traveled during 2017-19. Minor accidents were excluded from the study.

Neither forward collision warning nor automatic braking systems are required to be installed in trucks or passenger vehicles in the United States. Many manufacturers are voluntarily adding the technology in newer vehicles. However, the study could potentially move lawmakers to require the systems in all vehicles.

U.S. crashes involving large trucks have risen by nearly a third since hitting an all-time low in 2009. More than 4,100 people died in collisions involving large trucks in 2018 and most were occupants of smaller vehicles. Among the fatalities, 119 deaths resulted from large trucks rear-ending passenger vehicles.

Interestingly, the European Union has required AEB with forward collision warning on most new heavy trucks since 2013.

What is Front Crash Prevention?

Front crash prevention systems use cameras, radar or other sensors to monitor the roadway ahead. Some include:

  • Forward collision warning, which alerts the driver to obstacles in the roadway.
  • Automatic emergency braking systems go further — applying the brakes to prevent the collision or reduce its severity.
  • OnGuard is designed to incorporate forward collision warning, automatic braking and adaptive cruise control. OnGuard is always activated and works when the driver needs it most.

These technologies fall under the category known as driver assistance technologies, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They not only keep drivers and passengers safe, they keep other drivers and pedestrians safe too. Trucking companies should consider the cost of these technologies compared with the benefits of avoiding collisions and saving lives.

Ways to Prevent Front Crashes on Large Trucks

Large truck operators can take advantage of technology that warns the driver if a pedestrian is crossing in front and applies the brakes if a collision is imminent.

Another safety feature automatically switches your vehicle’s headlights to the lower beam when an oncoming vehicle approaches and back to the higher beam when it passes.

Truckers have complained about automatic emergency braking systems taking control away from the driver. They claim that braking systems may activate even when there is no threat, unnecessarily and suddenly reducing the truck’s speed. If a vehicle is behind a truck that suddenly brakes for no apparent reason, a crash could occur.

“This study provides evidence that forward collision warning and AEB greatly reduce crash risk for tractor-trailers and other large trucks,” Teoh said. “That’s important information for trucking companies and drivers who are weighing the costs and benefits of these options on their next vehicles.”

If The Unthinkable Happens

An accident involving a large truck can be a harrowing experience. You need the experience, knowledge and resources of a truck accident lawyer to assure that your damages are properly recognized and addressed. In Raleigh, the attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks are ready to help if you have been injured by another driver’s carelessness or negligence.

You may have serious injuries. Your vehicle may have been declared a total loss. Our hands-on treatment and personal attention give you every assurance that we will do whatever it takes to seek a satisfactory resolution of your case. We don’t back down, even up against large, well-financed corporations. If the insurance company declines to offer a reasonable settlement and the situation requires, we’re ready and able to take your personal injury case to trial.

You’ll appreciate our leading-edge case tracking system that follows all the details of your case, provides timely updates and ensures that every deadline is met. As a plus, we have staff members who are fluent in English and Spanish. Contact us now at 919-661-9000 to set up your free case evaluation.

About the Author

Joseph R. Baznik
Attorney Joseph Baznik is an attorney at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks P.A. who specializes in workers' compensation, personal injury and social security disability law. Joseph speak fluent both English and Spanish. He is licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

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