If you regularly drive on the highways in and around Chicago, you have no doubt had to share the road with giant semi-trucks. If it makes you nervous to drive around them, you’re not alone. These vehicles weigh 20 to 30 times more than most standard passenger vehicles. And any crash between an 18-wheeler and a smaller vehicle is likely to result in serious injury, paralysis or death for those in the smaller automobile.
One of the deadliest crash scenarios is also one of the most preventable: the rear-end collision. There are too many stories in the news of truck drivers who fail to slow down in response to a traffic jam or other changes on the roadway and end up smashing into one or more smaller vehicles and full highway speed. But thankfully, technology already exists that could prevent or greatly reduce these types of crashes.
In a recently published study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety examined the effectiveness of two technologies. The first is a forward collision warning system that alerts the driver of an impending crash risk with enough time for the driver to hit the brakes. The second is automatic emergency braking (AEB), which takes control of the brakes if a driver fails to respond in time.
The IIHS examined 2,000 truck crashes that occurred between 2017 and 2019. They found that forward collision warning systems reduced crashes by 44 percent. Automatic emergency braking reduced crashes by 41 percent. And when the systems failed to prevent crashes, they at least reduced crash speeds by about 50 percent, making crashes less fatal and injurious.
Those are impressive statistics by any measure. And results like this are perhaps why these two technologies have been required by the European Union for all new large trucks since 2013. Perhaps it is time that the United States made a similar move. Unfortunately, the American trucking industry has a well-documented history of resisting most attempts at mandating common-sense safety reforms.
Until real change occurs, all of us will remain in danger every time we share the road with a giant semi-truck. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck crash caused by negligence, please discuss your legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney.