For years, safety advocacy groups started by families of those killed in trucking accidents pushed for laws requiring automatic braking systems in trucks. While their wishes haven’t come true yet, new bills have been introduced by members of Congress that would require all new trucks to come with automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems.
An AEB system prevents accidents by scanning for stopped vehicles hundreds of feet in front of a truck. These systems are effective enough to prevent many truck accidents from happening. When they don’t prevent an accident, they can slow down trucks enough to mitigate damage and injuries during a collision.
Trucks weigh significantly more than other cars on the road. Trucks caused 119 fatalities by rear-ending smaller vehicles in 2018. A system that reacts faster than a trucker could be enough to slow down a truck enough to save lives.
Now, a recent study from the Insurance Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has confirmed how effective these systems are at preventing accidents, injuries, and deaths.
What the IIHS Automatic Emergency Braking System Found
The IIHS study examined driving records from 62 transport companies. Specifically, it looked at data from trucks that weigh 30,000 pounds or more. Known as Class 8 trucks, the weight and size of the vehicles make them difficult to stop. It looked at three sets of trucks: those with forward collision warning (FCW) systems, those with AEB systems, and those with both.
The report found the following:
- Trucks with FCW systems were involved with 22% fewer police-reportable crashes
- FCW systems were tied to a 44% reduction in rear-end crash rates of large trucks
- AEB systems were tied to a 12% reduction in overall crashes and a 41% reduction in rear-end collisions.
The study also found that AEB systems managed to decrease the speed of trucks by half before they collided with another vehicle. So, even when an AEB system fails to prevent a crash, it’s effective at reducing the amount of force exerted on smaller vehicles during one.
"The potential benefits are great enough that these crash avoidance systems should be standard equipment in all new large trucks," said IIHS president David Harkey in a statement. Notably, Europe has had these requirements for trucks since 2013. Yet, if U.S. regulators and truck companies will finally acknowledge the value of these systems is yet to be seen.