What is the Importance of Life-Saving Safety Features in Large Trucks?

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When a large commercial truck is involved in a traffic accident with a passenger vehicle, the occupants tend to suffer severe injuries. Many of these devastating accidents could be prevented if more large trucks were equipped with safety technology that comes standard in many of today’s newer cars. Unfortunately, there are no regulations that require truck manufacturers to equip their vehicles with the latest safety technology, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning (FCW), even though it is costing lives. If a motorist is seriously injured in a truck accident and the accident could have been avoided if the truck had been equipped with life-saving safety features, a skilled truck accident lawyer can ensure that the victim receives the maximum financial compensation they deserve.

According to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2018, close to 120 people were fatally injured after being struck from behind by a large truck. The study found that over 40 percent of those crashes could have been prevented if tractor trailers and other large trucks weighing more than 33,000 pounds were equipped with AEB and/or FCW. In addition, trucks that were equipped with FCW had 22 percent fewer crashes overall, and trucks with AEB had 12 percent fewer accidents compared to those that were not equipped with the safety technology. Although installing safety systems to new vehicles certainly adds to the initial cost, the safety benefits far outweigh the cost issue. In addition, a spokesperson for IIHS noted that these systems can be retrofitted to older trucks.

How Many Trucks are Equipped with Safety Features?

Approximately 66 percent of all new cars in the United States are equipped with AEB or FWC. AEB can prevent a collision by automatically slowing or stopping a vehicle before impact. FCW alerts the driver that a crash is imminent. Both features are known to avoid traffic accidents and prevent serious injuries associated with them. Despite the proven benefit of these safety features, only about half of all new semi-trailers and large commercial trucks are equipped with AEB or FCW, even though their massive size and weight make them significantly more dangerous in the event of a crash. Although the trucking industry has opposed federal mandates for new trucks to include AEB, the American Trucking Association (ATA) is working with industry officials, including federal lawmakers, fleets, and individual owners to encourage truck manufacturers to equip trucks with AEB and to determine how the mandates will be implemented.

In 2015, safety advocates signed a petition that would require large trucks to be equipped with AEB. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) granted the petition but has not taken any action over the past five years to establish industry-wide rules. In July, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would require all new commercial vehicles, including school buses and passenger vehicles, to be equipped with AEB.  It is up to the Senate to approve the legislation. According to the policy counsel for Consumer Reports, the IIHS study confirms that significant progress can be made that will save lives. It is up to Congress to take immediate action and provide the NHTSA with the performance standards necessary to ensure that AEB is installed on all large trucks.

How can Automatic Emergency Braking Systems Prevent Truck Accidents?

When a large commercial truck is equipped with AEB systems, the technology alerts the driver of an impending crash. Ideally, the driver will be able to take corrective measures in enough time to avoid a collision. However, if the driver does not respond quickly enough to avoid a crash, the AEB system will apply the brakes to either prevent a crash or reduce the severity of the collision. According to the NHTSA, this technology, which includes dynamic brake support (DBS) and crash imminent braking (CIB), has the potential to save lives and significantly reduce moderate and less severe rear-end collisions, which are some of the most common collisions on roads and highways across the country. They can result in severe and fatal injuries when a large commercial truck is involved, which is why it is so important for these vehicles to be equipped with this technology.

What are the Benefits of Installing Different Types of AEB Systems?

AAA conducted a study that examined the costs and safety benefits associated with installing all large commercial trucks in the United States with AEB systems. The study found the following:

  • Installing a lane departure warning system warns the driver when a vehicle starts to drift out of its lane.
  • Video-based onboard safety monitoring systems use in-vehicle cameras and other sensors to monitor the driver’s performance behind the wheel. This allows the driver’s employer to provide valuable feedback, including ways he or she can improve their driving.
  • AEB systems alert the driver if he or she is in danger of hitting the vehicle in front of it. The system will apply the brakes if necessary.
  • Air disc brakes provide maintenance and performance advantages relative to traditional drum brakes on all combination unit trucks.

What are the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents?

Truck accidents do not occur as frequently as car accidents, but when they do, they tend to cause extensive property damage and devastating injuries. Installing safety technology can help prevent some of the most common types of truck accidents, including the following:

  • Rear-end collisions
  • Blind spot accidents
  • Jackknife accidents
  • Underride accidents
  • Head-on collisions
  • Rollover accidents

What Types of Injuries Do Truck Accidents Cause?

Owing to the massive size and weight of the average commercial truck, accidents involving these vehicles tend to result in severe, often fatal injuries. In most cases, it is the occupants of the passenger vehicle involved in the crash who suffer the most serious injuries. If a large commercial truck is not equipped with life-saving safety technology, there is a greater risk of a serious collision with another vehicle. The following are examples of common truck accident injuries:

  • Back and neck injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Loss of limbs
  • Paralysis
  • Severe burns
  • Spine injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Death

Steps to Take After a Truck Accident

If the occupants are lucky enough to survive the accident and are physically able to move, the driver should take the following steps immediately after the accident:

  • Call 911. Any time there is a traffic accident, it is important to file an accident report. Police who arrive at the scene will fill out the accident report, which will include important details about the accident. A copy of the report can be obtained from the local police department and be used as an important piece of evidence when filing an injury claim.
  • Seek medical attention. Truck accident injuries tend to be quite severe, so it is crucial that the injured victims seek immediate medical attention. If an ambulance is called to the scene, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) will examine the victim to determine the extent of the injuries and transport the injured to the nearest hospital for treatment. Even seemingly minor injuries should be checked out. Internal bleeding, head injuries, and other types of injuries may not be obvious right away but can become serious if not treated.
  • Contact the insurance company. This will ensure that the victim receives the compensation he or she deserves for their injuries. Avoid speaking to the other motorist’s insurance company.
  • Contact a truck accident lawyer. This is a crucial step in any truck accident. A skilled truck accident lawyer will protect the victim’s rights and ensure that he or she receives a fair settlement.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Justice for Victims of Devastating Truck Accidents

If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a truck accident, it is in your best interest to contact the highly skilled Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. Safety technology saves lives, and if the truck involved in the accident was not equipped with AEB, FCW, or other life-saving safety features, we will conduct a thorough investigation into the events leading up to the accident to determine whether the accident could have been prevented. We will not stop fighting for you until justice has been served. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.