The consumer auto industry is always trying to showcase the latest and most innovative technology. In recent years, the focus has been on safety features that move in the direction of driving automation. While cars aren’t fully autonomous yet, automakers have introduced safety systems that can take over some vital driving functions and correct for human error, ultimately preventing crashes or reducing their severity.
This new technology is by no means perfect, but it can save lives. As it turns out, some of the safety features are particularly effective at reducing one of the most common trucking accident scenarios. This is according to a study published in the fall of 2020 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Two technologies to prevent rear-end collisions
The IIHS study identified two safety features that were particularly effective at reducing rear-end collisions (in which a heavy truck rear-ends another vehicle in front of it). Those two features are:
- A forward collision warning system (FCW), where the vehicle uses sensors to detect oncoming collision risks and sounds an alarm when one is detected. It is then up to the driver to respond.
- An automatic emergency braking system (AEB), which allows the vehicle to apply brakes if the driver doesn’t respond to a crash risk in time. Typically, AEB systems also include forward collision warning systems.
The IIHS examined data on more than 2,000 serious truck crashes, including information on which systems each truck had installed, if any. The results were eye-opening. According to the study, FCW systems reduced rear-end crashes by 44 percent, while AEB systems reduced crashes by 41 percent. In many cases where these systems were unable to completely prevent a crash, they at least reduced the speed and impact of collisions. A drop in speed can be the difference between injury and death.
Should technology be mandated?
Regulating the trucking industry in the United States is challenging, and trucking companies are often resistant to any mandates. But the data show that these technologies are highly effective. Moreover, since 2013, the European Union has required most new heavy trucks to include both technologies. Precedent is often a compelling supporting argument.
It’s unclear whether we’ll see any regulation to require FCWs and AEBs anytime soon. But considering the high costs of truck accidents (in life, property and money), trucking companies would be wise to invest in them.