Large Commercial Trucks in Rear-End Accidents

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A federal study has shown that one piece of technology placed on large commercial trucks could save nearly 200 lives a year by reducing the number of fatal trucking crashes.  A look at that technology and the crashes it could limit also highlights the serious dangers when truck drivers behave recklessly.

An Automatic Emergency Braking system can detect pending front end crashes, warn the vehicle driver and, in some cases, apply the brakes to stop the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in July 2017 published a study to identify under which conditions AEB on large commercial rigs would be most beneficial in preventing catastrophic truck wrecks.

The rigs considered in this study weighed over 10,000 pounds, so the trucks included a range of commercial vehicles, from straight trucks to over-the-road tractor-trailers.

The researchers reviewed a number of commercial truck accidents, looking for any common traits that would help determine whether or not the emergency braking feature would be beneficial.  Through a filtering process that began with 342,000 commercial truck accidents, the researchers narrowed their focus to 50,000 crashes when trucks rear-ended the vehicle ahead.  They eliminated a number of considerations, such as low speeds and dangerous weather conditions, which prevent AEB from being a helping factor.

Trucks Crash Into Stopped or Moving Traffic

In the end, the study determined that 11,499 rear-end truck crashes each year represented the “target population” for which AEB could potentially prevent.  These crashes included two different scenarios: When traffic ahead of the oncoming truck was stopped, and when traffic ahead was moving.  In both situations preventable truck driver error could be at fault.  The trucker in the first instance may not have been paying attention to changing road conditions ahead.  In the second, the trucker may have been speeding or following cars too closely.

The majority of fatalities from crashes with large commercial vehicles – such as a tractor-trailer – occurred when the traffic ahead of the truck was stopped.  Most injuries in crashes with big rigs occurred when the traffic ahead was moving.

The same is true with crashes involving smaller commercial vehicles, such as straight trucks, commonly known as delivery trucks.  The majority of people killed in these type of accidents happened when traffic ahead of the straight trucks were stopped.

Deaths in Crashes with Delivery Trucks

A third of all the crashes in the study involved tractor-trailers or truck cabs only, while 55 percent were caused by delivery trucks.  However, 69 percent of the people killed died in truck-tractor crashes, while 25 percent died in crashes with delivery trucks, which illustrates the critical harm that can occur as truck size and weight increases.

The projected number of people killed in rear-end truck crashes that may be prevented with AEB was as high as 173 people a year.

So this automated braking technology clearly is needed.  So too are truckers who drive safely and don’t take chances with other peoples’ lives.

If you were seriously injured or lost a family member in a crash with a large commercial truck, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer, who can hold accountable all those responsible for your losses.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Articles December 29, 2017

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