Crash-avoidance systems on tractor-trailers and other heavy vehicles could potentially save thousands of lives per year, mitigate crash severity and injuries, and reduce property damages, yet Congress has failed to mandate the technology despite an alarming increase in tractor-trailer crash deaths.
The Kansas City Star examined the issue of crash-avoidance technology in tractor-trailers in a recent report, noting that for 20 years the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has repeatedly urged federal regulators to mandate crash-avoidance systems in trucks, yet no action has been taken, let alone proposed.
In 2016, more than 4,300 people were killed in accidents involving tractor-trailers and other heavy vehicles – an increase of 28 percent since 2009.
The NTSB usually presses the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate crash-avoidance systems in response to horrific crashes that could have been avoided with the technology. Crash-avoidance technology has made regular appearances on the NTSB’s top-10 list of most-wanted safety improvements.
“Humans make mistakes, even in transportation. Transportation operators must always walk a demanding line of alertness and vigilance, but collision avoidance technologies can provide a lifesaving safety net,” the NTSB says on its most recent top-10 list. “These technologies are available today. They should be implemented today.”
According to The Kansas City Star, trucking companies that use crash-avoidance systems in their fleets say the technology can prevent more than seven out of 10 rear-end tractor-trailer collisions. “When wrecks do occur, injuries are generally less severe and property damages are lower,” according to The Kansas City Star.