A new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems reduce commercial truck accidents. This is an important finding, especially considering that there were 4,889 large truck and bus accidents in 2017, which is a 10 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
What is Automatic Emergency Braking?
AEB is technology that helps prevent accidents or reduce the severity of crashes by applying brakes automatically. Radar, cameras, and lasers are typically employed to detect when a crash is imminent. AEB systems provide dynamic brake support (DBS) in cases where drivers have not applied adequate pressure to avoid crashes. AEB technology also applies crash imminent braking (CIB) when drivers do not take any actions to avoid crashes. According to the IIHS, when vehicles are equipped with AEB systems and forward collision warning alerts, rear-end collisions are cut by 50 percent.
What Did the Recent IIHS Study Find?
Previously, AEB technology was not tested in commercial trucks. The IIHS recently published the results of the study, which sought to determine the effectiveness of forward collision warning and AEB systems. The study contains examined crash data collected on commercial trucks from 2017 to 2019, including exposure measures and crash circumstances. Those collision rates were compared to crash rates for trucks equipped with forward collision warning and those equipped with AEB systems and forward collision warning. The results showed that trucks equipped with forward collision warning had 22 percent fewer crashes, and the trucks equipped with AEB systems had 12 percent fewer crashes.
What is the Proper Braking Technique for a Truck Driver?
Improper braking is the cause of many commercial truck accidents. Tractor trailers and other heavy trucks weighing at least 33,000 pounds require different braking techniques than passenger vehicles. In non-emergency situations, commercial truck drivers are trained to pump the brakes in order to reduce the speed of the truck at a rate of approximately five mph. If the brakes are pressed too hard or too consistently, they may not be able to stop a truck that is traveling down a steep incline.
If the brakes are not steadily applied when the anti-lock braking system is engaged, or if a driver brakes too hard, it may result in a collision. Truck drivers must be aware of the proper braking technique in all situations, such as driving in bad weather, in heavy traffic, or when traveling down hills.
To minimize the risk of getting in a brake-related accident, truck drivers should do the following:
- Leave plenty of space between themselves and the cars in front of them to avoid hard braking.
- Follow the speed limit, and slow down when traveling downhill or when roads are slippery.
- Apply firm pressure to the brake pedal at first, and then incrementally less pressure until coming to a complete stop.
- Use lower gears in heavy traffic and on hills.
- Regularly inspect and maintain brake systems.
How Do AEB Systems Prevent Commercial Truck Crashes?
Even with years of training and experience, commercial truck drivers can improperly apply the brakes or fail to pump the brakes in time to prevent crashes. AEB systems sound alarms when collisions are imminent and if drivers do not respond appropriately. This technology can either prevent a crash altogether or reduce the severity of an unavoidable accident.
What Types of Truck Accidents Will AEB Systems Prevent?
AEB helps prevent all types of truck accidents, but most significantly, rear-end crashes. A rear-end collision occurs when a vehicle runs into the back of the one in front of it. Often, rear-end accidents are caused by distracted driving, which can lead to serious injuries and fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that rear-end crashes are the most frequent type of collision; they account for 29 percent of all crashes. According to the IIHS study findings, AEB systems were associated with a 41 percent reduction in the rate of rear-end crashes involving large trucks. Similarly, forward collision warning technology was associated with a 44 percent reduction.
Are There Any Drawbacks to AEB Systems?
AEB systems seem like effective countermeasures against rear-end truck accidents; however, there are some drawbacks to this innovative technology. Since it is fairly new, AEB systems have not been adequately tested on passenger vehicles and commercial trucks. As with all technology, it has the potential to malfunction. AEB systems do not work as well when there are additional factors affecting the proper stopping distance, such as dirt roads, inflated tires, or when trucks are carrying heavy loads. Also, AEB systems sometimes have trouble recognizing small or narrow objects, and they do not always respond to obstructions in roadways to avoid accidents.
How Can I Drive Safely Around a Large Commercial Truck?
Many truck accidents occur because motorists do not know how to safely drive around commercial trucks. Big rigs and other commercial trucks have much larger blind spots than regular vehicles; therefore, truck drivers may not be able to see other motorists in nearby lanes. Drivers should avoid driving in commercial trucks’ blind spots, including on the upper sides and in the back of the trucks. If a driver cannot see the truck driver’s mirrors, the trucker cannot see as well. A truck’s blind spot on the right side is the most dangerous as it spans across two lanes, whereas the blind spot on the left side spans across one lane.
A motorist should make sure to give a truck driver plenty of room; truckers need lots of space to maneuver around turns and extra time to come to come to complete stops. A car driver should practice exercise caution when passing, especially on the right, and always use their signal lights. Due to the size and weight of commercial trucks, drivers of passenger vehicles are more likely to suffer severe injuries or be killed in truck accidents than truck drivers.
Implications of the IIHS Study
The implications of the IIHS are far-reaching; lawmakers and safety advocates are pushing for the mandatory implementation of AEB technology in all large trucks. Their hope is that it will help reduce truck crashes or minimize their severity. There were 36,560 people killed in vehicle crashes in 2018, according to the NHTSA, and many of these crashes were caused by human error.
The NHTSA recommends safety technology to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe. The administration encourages consumers to purchase vehicles containing AEB technology and forward collision warning.
Why is it Important for a Car Driver to See a Lawyer After a Truck Accident?
Although AEB systems help prevent truck accidents, they are not foolproof. Truck accidents are often severe due to the size and weight of commercial trucks. If a car driver is in an accident with a negligent trucker, it is imperative that they see a lawyer. A lawyer will collect evidence, examine the case, and help the victim collect damages for injuries and property damage.
Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Fight for Clients Injured in Improper Braking Crashes
If you were hurt in a recent truck collision, contact our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers right away. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we proudly defend truck accident victims. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process and ensure that you receive the compensation that you need. You may be eligible for damages, including compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. Call us at 757-352-2237 or complete our online form for a free consultation today. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we proudly serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.