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NHTSA wants to require automatic braking on all tractor-trailers

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2021 | Truck Accidents

The laws of physics are not on your side on the interstate highways that wind through and around Covington. When combined in a crash, the speed and weight of cars, SUVs and pick-ups do terrible damage to people and vehicles.

The odds are stacked even higher against you in a commercial truck crash. An 18-wheeler in Kentucky can weigh up to 80,000 pounds – that’s at least 13 times more than the weight of the heaviest SUVs.

Because of their extreme weight, big rigs are the most difficult vehicles of all to bring to a quick stop – a maneuver often needed to avoid a rear-end collision.

Safety proposal

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that it will propose a new rule next spring to require makers of heavy commercial trucks to include automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems on all their vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds and up.

While the moves are hailed by safety advocates who have long argued to make big rigs safer, there’s also a sense of frustration with the NHTSA’s decision to wait until spring to start the regulatory process.

Mixed feelings

“We are glad to see NHTSA finally take the next step in making large trucks safer by mandating AEB,” said Jason Levine, director of the Center for Auto Safety. “Unfortunately, at this rate, it will still be years until the technology that could help stop the 5,000 truck crash deaths on our roads is required.”

According to the Associated Press, the federal agency had originally proposed the change back in 2015, but it was slowed by red tape and then a change in administrations.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it opposes the regulation, insisting that AEB technology is not yet sophisticated enough to be safe and useful on 18-wheelers.

Reducing truck crashes

Proponents of the AEB mandate point to a study last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that said that AEB and forward collision warning systems could prevent more than 40 percent of crashes in which big rigs strike other vehicles from behind.

IIHS researchers said that when tractor-trailers do rear-end other vehicles, the safety technologies cut speeds by more than half, which decreases injuries to occupants of the struck vehicles.

As regular readers of our Covington legal blog know, some of the most severe injuries possible occur in commercial truck accidents, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Burns
  • Amputations

Those who have been injured in a collision with a large commercial truck have the right to pursue full, fair compensation for all damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and more.

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