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Could Technology Help Prevent Deadly Truck Crashes?

Due to their sheer size and weight, trucks are among the most dangerous vehicles on the road. When they are involved in accidents with smaller cars and trucks, the consequences are often deadly.

According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Transportation Department, more than 4,000 people are killed and nearly 100,000 are injured annually in collisions involving large trucks. Since 2009, the number of fatalities resulting from traffic crashes involving large trucks has increased 16 percent, and injuries have spiked 40 percent.

Many of the most serious crashes involve a truck striking the rear of a vehicle. These rear-end collisions can occur if the truck driver falls asleep at the wheel or fails to detect traffic slowed ahead. Even at slow speeds, these crashes can result in serious injuries, including internal injuries, head trauma, broken bones, and spinal cord damage. The truck crash involving actor and comedian Tracy Morgan is just one example.

With this in mind, several road safety advocates are calling on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rule requiring a crash avoidance technology known as forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking (F-CAM). The system uses radar and sensors to first alert the driver and then to apply the brakes when a crash is imminent.

According to the NHTSA, current model F-CAM systems can prevent more than 2,500 crashes each year. As the technology evolves, future generation systems could help deter more than 6,300 crashes each year. The regulator, however, has not yet passed a regulation making the crash avoidance technology mandatory for commercial trucks.

“The safety technology is available to reduce the carnage on America’s roads resulting from rear-end crashes by large trucks,” said Henry Jasny, Senior Vice President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “The NHTSA can take action to improve safety and reduce preventable losses by requiring F-CAM technology on all large commercial motor vehicles.”

As San Diego injury lawyers, we have seen the devastation that can result from a serious truck crash. We are hopeful that the NHTSA will move forward on regulations that will make this life-saving technology mandatory for all large trucks on the road.