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No Automatic Braking Systems for Tractor-Trailers

Despite research indicating that automatic braking systems save lives, they will not be required on tractor-trailers any time soon, according to a recent article on Forbes.com (Automatic Braking In Trucks Will Lag Cars by Years). Automakers have agreed to include automatic braking systems on cars and light trucks by 2022, but the trucking industry has resisted implementing the lifesaving technology on large commercial vehicles.

Automatic braking systems allow a motor vehicle’s wheels to maintain traction with the road while braking, preventing the wheels from locking up and causing the vehicle to skid out of control. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that automatic braking systems reduce rear-end crashes with injuries by 42 percent, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute estimates that the technology would decrease truck fatalities by 44-47 percent.

Armed with this knowledge, safety advocates filed a petition requesting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) make automatic braking systems mandatory for new trucks.  Automatic braking systems are “clearly effective in reducing crashes for passenger vehicles,” said IIHS spokesman Russ Rader. “We expect that it will also be effective for crashes involving large trucks.”

The NHTSA granted the petition, but so far there has been no progress. Nat Breuse, the associate administrator of vehicle safety research at the Department of Transportation, noted that large commercial vehicles create complications for automated safety systems. Any collision-prevention system must account for the enormous weight of a tractor-trailer and make sure that sudden braking will not cause it to jackknife.

There may be some legitimate technological issues to overcome, but the European Union already requires automatic braking systems on new large commercial vehicles. It appears that the trucking industry is once again dragging its feet when it comes to safety issues, prioritizing profits over the lives of American drivers.

If you have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer or other large commercial vehicle, please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.