Posted on August 30th, 2017

Experts look to technology in large trucks

More than 4,000 people have been killed in crashes involving large trucks and buses during each of the past five years in which data has been measured, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

One way to prevent these tragedies from reoccurring is to increase the use of safety technologies in truck fleets, experts agreed July 24 during a roundtable discussion co-hosted by the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Safety Council. The discussion featured nearly two-dozen participants and included fleet managers, automakers, government officials, researchers, trade media, technology leaders and safety advocates.

Trucks benefit specifically from features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning systems, industry insiders said. Many of these types of technologies are becoming popular in passenger vehicles, but the rate of implementation remains low among large trucks.

The bottom line, participants said, is that collision avoidance technologies exist now that can save lives and prevent injuries. Driver training programs and periodic refresher courses will be important because the technologies are meant to assist the driver – not replace him or her – and will be most effective if understood. Regulations might speed the implementation of safety technologies in large trucks, the panel agreed, but nothing is barring the trucking industry from taking the lead and implementing better technology on its own.

Are safety technologies too expensive to implement in a fleet of big rigs? According to one trucking organization at the panel, the technologies actually saved money. The fleet had a 95 percent reduction in the severity of crashes and a 70 percent reduction in the frequency of crashes since implementing collision avoidance technologies.

Meanwhile, fleets that neglect to use safety technologies risk massive monetary penalties involved with crashes. As one participant remarked: “It only takes one accident to put a small fleet out of business.”

To watch a recording of the discussion, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCeGam2RNfE.