Researchers and engineers work every day to develop new vehicle safety technologies that save lives. Government agencies and independent organizations test these new developments, offering safety ratings and recommending new policies.

One such organization is the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). Their research teams recently published a study on how forward collision warning and emergency braking systems significantly improve commercial trucking safety.

Safety tech reduces truck accident rates

Studying over 60 trucking companies, the IIHS examined data from 2,000 truck crashes over two billion miles of road. Researchers compared crash statistics of trucks equipped with forward collision warning systems, emergency braking systems and neither. The IIHS revealed that emergency braking and forward collision warning systems helped reduce semi-truck rear-ends by 40%.

Eric Teoh, the IIHS director of statistical services, says that these systems are “an important countermeasure” to rear-end crashes that often come with “horrible consequences.” The study also notes that, when these trucks do crash, the systems cut speeds by half, reducing the severity of damage and injury.

Teoh and the IIHS call on the federal government to require the systems on new commercial trucks. A similar program hit the European Union in 2013 with much success.

Resistance to expanded government reach

Despite the promising data, some organizations are pushing back against expanded regulations. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) claims researchers overlooked personal factors like a trucker’s safety record and training. The American Automobile Association (AAA) claims that these systems do not work properly often enough.

Other federal regulators require more research. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will publish the results from their studies soon, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stands by their recommended use of emergency braking systems.

Legal implications for future crashes

Should the federal government mandate the inclusion of safety systems in commercial truck fleets, truckers without the equipment may face increased penalties in crashes. Those injured in these crashes will have a better chance of securing restitution alongside a lawyer familiar with New Jersey truck laws.