18-wheelers With Sensors Could Prevent the Surge in Fatal Truck Crashes

Implementation delayed for almost 20 years–WHY?!

Have you ever looked in your rearview mirror and seen the grill of an 18-wheeler way too close? Or, have you seen the driver of a big truck try to react when a car pulls in front of a rig like it could stop on a dime?

These are situations that can result in deadly rear-end collisions. (Video courtesy of Kansas City Star) While big trucks collide with cars in a variety of ways, experts say the rear-ends types of wrecks are among the most devastating and yet perhaps the easiest to prevent with crash avoidance and mitigation systems on all heavy trucks. Many rear-end collisions could have been prevented if the truck had sensors to strategically apply the brakes. We have handled numerous 18-wheeler cases and have long questioned why the trucks were not equipped with the technology to avoid many collisions.

Failure to Mandate Changes to Avert Rear-End Collisions

In the 1990’s, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent US government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation, called for the trucks to have crash avoidance systems that would prevent them from rear-ending other vehicles. Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) whose mission is to “Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes” has failed to mandate changes that over the past two decades might have averted thousands of rear-end truck crashes.

In an outstanding investigative report, the Kansas City Star newspaper details why the big truck crash avoidance and mitigation systems have not been deployed, and the fatalities that could have been avoided if 18-wheeler trucks were equipped with about $2,000 worth of technology. It is a small part of the $150,000 a new truck costs that could prevent numerous fatalities.

Kansas City Star Investigative Report

Below is an excerpt from their story. Please read the full story which includes the terrible fatal accidents that could have been prevented.

It’s not as if the technology is groundbreaking, or unfamiliar. Many new cars — and by 2022 all cars sold in the United States — come equipped with automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning systems, among other high-tech safety features.

Makers of heavy trucks, on the other hand, have made no such commitment. As a result, only a small percentage of semis on the road today have collision avoidance technology.
More than 4,300 people were killed in accidents involving semis and other large trucks in 2016, a 28 percent increase over 2009, according to the federal government. It would be equal to a 737 airliner crashing twice a month, killing all on board.

“Those should be eye-opening numbers,” said John Lannen of the Truck Safety Coalition.“If air carriers or railroads reported similar numbers, there would be national outrage.”

Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal regulatory agency responsible for protecting us from danger on the nation’s roads, has failed to mandate changes that over the past two decades might have averted thousands of rear-end truck crashes.

“Those should be eye-opening numbers,” said John Lannen of the Truck Safety Coalition. “If air carriers or railroads reported similar numbers, there would be national outrage.”

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