On at least ten occasions, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration create requirements for semi-trucks to have automatic braking systems. Safety advocates are also clamoring for officials to create new braking systems regulations. In 2017, 4,889 trucks were involved in fatal accidents. Safety advocates point out that this is equivalent to two deadly plane accidents with no survivors every month of the year. Now, a bill could make these systems required in all new semis sold in the United States.
How Effective Are Automatic Braking Systems?
Rear-end accidents are the most common type of deadly truck accident. This is because of the difference in weight and size between a truck and other vehicles. Just one mistake on the part of a driver can send a truck slamming into the back of a car with enough force to kill all passengers inside. What would usually be a fender bender involving other vehicles could be a deadly and life-altering event if a truck is involved.
Automatic emergency braking systems are effective. They use radars to detect when vehicles are stopped up to 500 feet away and automatically slow down trucks. In many instances, these systems can completely prevent accidents from occurring. In other instances, they slow down trucks enough to prevent an accident from being deadly.
About the Automatic Emergency Braking System Bill
Representatives Jesús García (D-IL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) introduced the Safe Roads Act of 2012 on July 16. The bill would “direct the Secretary of Transportation to prescribe a motor vehicle safety standard requiring new commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with an automatic emergency braking system, to require automatic emergency braking installed in commercial motor vehicles to be used while in operation, and for other purposes.”
The introduction of the bill coincided with a push from members of the Truck Safety Coalition for increased regulations on the industry. They did this during a visit to Washington, D.C. The coalition consists of family members who lost loved ones in deadly truck accidents. The representatives who introduced the bill stress that the $500 cost of installing automatic braking systems is a small price to pay for the hundreds of lives that they could save.
“America’s roads and highways should be safe for all drivers. Taking full advantage of technologies that are available and proven to anticipate and prevent crashes will save lives,” said Representative Johnson.
The new law also comes at a time when a bill requiring speed limiters is making its way through the Senate. The Truck Safety Coalition is also an advocate for speed limiters.