Since 2009, crashes involving semi trucks and other large vehicles have increased by nearly a third. In 2018, 4,136 people died in crashes involving big rigs – 119 of those fatalities resulted from trucks rear-ending passenger cars.

A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that two out of five rear-end crashes could have been avoided if trucks were equipped with electronic safety systems, similar to those already used in most newer passenger vehicles.

Two safety systems studied

IIHS researchers examined nearly 2,000 crashes involving big trucks from 2017 to 2019 from 62 trucking firms. Significant benefits were noted for trucks using two safety systems:

  • Front crash prevention: Forward collision warning uses sensors, radar and cameras to scan the roadway ahead and warn drivers of obstacles.
  • Automatic emergency braking: AEB provides an extra layer of safety by automatically applying brakes to prevent a crash or reduce the severity.

Federal agencies will review findings

Two agencies that regulate large trucks say they plan to evaluate the IIHS study. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says its own soon-to-be-released research reinforces the benefits of driver-assist technology for heavy vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says it already encourages the voluntary use of systems, such as AEB. However, another private group representing independent truckers says it doesn’t accept IIHS conclusions.

Protecting all drivers on the road

While some trucking firms and independent drivers are already installing these systems on newer big rigs, many are resistant, citing the costs involved. The benefits are substantial when considering vehicles that can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger car.

Thousands die each year from large truck crashes, and thousands more suffer life-altering injuries and devastating financial consequences. If you or a loved one is involved in a crash, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.