How new technology could prevent fatal large truck accidents

Large truck accidents are on the rise in the United States. After crashes involving large trucks reached an all-time low in 2009, collisions rose by nearly a third between 2009 and 2018. Although truck drivers are less likely to get in a crash than the average motorist, when they do collide with a car, the results are often catastrophic. Most large trucks weigh up to 20 to 30 times as much as a passenger vehicle.

However, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, equipping large trucks with new safety technology could drastically reduce truck accidents on the road. The results found that adding forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems in large trucks could eliminate more than two out of every five accidents in which a large truck rear-ends another vehicle.

Understanding the equipment

According to the IIHS, front crash prevention technology utilizes cameras, radar and sensors to monitor what’s ahead on the roadway. When the system detects an obstacle, it alerts the driver to the hazard on the road.  AEB systems, as their name suggests, work by automatically applying the brakes when it detects an obstacle to prevent the collision or minimize its severity.

In the study, trucks with forward collision warning had 22% fewer front crashes than trucks that didn’t use this technology. Trucks equipped with AEB had 12% fewer crashes than those without either technology. When it came to rear-end truck crashes, which is what the technology is specifically designed to prevent, forward collision warning reduced crashes by 44% and AEB reduced crashes by 41% in the study.

The bottom line

While these safety systems can’t prevent all large truck accidents on the road, at the very least, they can make unavoidable accidents less severe by reducing the impact speed. The benefits these systems offer for reducing or preventing damage and saving lives is undeniable. Going forward, hopefully, these crash avoidance technologies will become standard features on all new large trucks.