Automotive technology is constantly moving forward. It was only 30 years ago that Michigan was discussing new laws requiring seat belts; now, legislators must weigh the risks of allowing driverless vehicles on the road. Some of these advanced technologies have made their way into the trucking industry with an intent to increase safety.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has recently completed its study on two new truck safety technologies that may help reduce 40% of crashes where semis rear-end another car. How do these promising technologies work?
Emergency braking and forward-collision warning systems
The director of statistical services at the IIHS, Eric Teoh, led research into the impact two safety technologies had on commercial truck accidents: emergency braking and forward-collision warning. The team studied crash data from 2,000 incidents involving 62 trucking companies and over two billion miles of U.S. roadways. These systems cut speeds of trucks by over 50% during collisions, significantly reducing both damage and injury.
The most catastrophic truck crashes occur when the semi rear-ends another, usually smaller, vehicle. The IIHS team found that trucks equipped with either individual system reduced the rate of these crashes by over 40%. These systems also help reduce the rate of other crashes too — trucks with collision warning experienced 22% fewer crashes than trucks without the tech, while emergency braking reduced the overall rate of crashes by 12%. Teoh and his team believe these technologies provide significant benefits and are lobbying lawmakers to introduce new safety regulations.
For many fleet operators, these numbers can assist in cost analysis. Equipping a whole fleet of trucks with two new technologies is not cheap, but neither are personal injury lawsuits. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration encourages the voluntary use of these systems, while the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believes the study overlooks real-world factors like experience and safety records. Despite pushback, Teoh and the IIHS stand their ground, saying these technologies directly prevent or limit the damage of crashes and could save lives.
Will the federal government require this tech?
The United States has not yet required that fleet operators include these safety systems, but precedent does exist: the European Union launched a similar program in 2013 to great success. The IIHS certainly hopes so — large truck crashes have risen by over 30% since 2009, with more than 4,000 people losing their lives in 2018.
If you or a loved one were a victim of a large truck crash, you may be able to secure compensation for your injuries. Contact a local lawyer familiar with Michigan’s motor vehicle laws for more information.