Collision avoidance systems may prevent truck crashes

According to data published by the federal government, there were more than 4,300 traffic fatalities in large truck crashes during the year 2016. That represents a 28 percent increase since 2009. Since the late 1990s, the National Transportation Safety Board has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at least 10 times to require crash avoidance systems in large trucks operating in California and across the U.S.

The NTSB has said that many serious truck crashes could have been prevented if the trucks had been equipped with rear-end collision avoidance systems. Based on statements by companies that have installed the systems, rear-end collision avoidance technologies might prevent more than 70 percent of semi-truck rear-end crashes. When crashes occur despite the avoidance technology, they cause less damage to people and property.

The NHTSA released a statement saying that it researched automatic braking systems soon after they were introduced and that it plans to finish next-generation testing in 18 to 24 months. Associations that lobby for the trucking industry generally do not want the systems mandated; they'd prefer truckers and trucking companies adopt the systems voluntarily to save on costs. The president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said the industry doesn't know yet if these technologies work and that the systems represent significant cost increases for smaller operators and trucking companies.

Safety concerns are not always best left to market forces, however, and collision avoidance systems are proving themselves valuable on California roads. A person who is injured in a semi-truck accident might be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages or other damages. An attorney with experience in personal injury law might be able to help by identifying parties who have liability or by gathering evidence to build a case. An attorney may attempt to negotiate settlement with an at-fault driver or file a complaint in civil court.

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