Truck accident fatalities around the country rose by an alarming 28 percent to more than 4,300 in 2016 according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures. This surge in semi-tractor trailer crash deaths has prompted the National Transportation Safety Board and road safety advocacy groups to urge the agency to make forward collision avoidance systems mandated safety equipment on all large trucks driven in North Carolina and elsewhere. The NTSB has made similar requests to the NHTSA on at least 10 occasions since the technology was developed in the late 1990s.
Safety groups say that autonomous forward collision avoidance systems could reduce rear-end big rig accidents by up to 70 percent and save hundreds of lives each year. When these systems are unable to prevent a crash, they greatly reduce the severity of injuries according to road safety experts.The NHTSA does not question these findings, and it says that field testing of the latest truck accident avoidance technology should be completed within two years.
Any new truck safety regulations are likely to be opposed by trade groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. These organizations question the road safety benefits of autonomous vehicle technology and say that mandating the installation of sophisticated electronic systems would be an unfair financial burden for truck operators that are already struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
The kind of accidents prevented by commercial vehicle forward collision avoidance systems are often caused by intoxicated, distracted or fatigued truck drivers. When their clients have been injured in such a crash, experienced personal injury attorneys may study accident investigations and police reports for evidence that could establish negligence in lawsuits filed on their behalf. This evidence may include truck driver hours of service violations, toxicology test results, cellphone records and signs of shoddy repairs or neglected maintenance discovered during commercial vehicle inspections.