Trucking Fleets Report Major Accident Reductions with Automated Safety Systems

An analyst at the Canadian Truck Equipment Association’s annual conference recently reported that rear end collisions have been reduced by up to 87% in a study of automated safety systems in tractor trailers, including automatic braking systems, adaptive cruise control, roll stability control and electronic stability control. 

The analyst, who works for Meritor WABCO and analyzes results of companies that have added new safety features on their truck fleets. found that adaptive cruise control can reduce serious accidents by 66%.


The analyst stated that his study showed that almost 60% of fatal truck crashes happen in front of the truck, so Meritor is focusing its energy on developing forward collision mitigation systems.

According to a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study that was funded but not conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under a cooperative agreement with Meritor, there are 180,000 big rig crashes each year and 3330 deaths.

The NHTSA recently stated that electronic stability control in trucks, which can prevent rollovers and jackknifes, could save up to 49 lives each year. Adaptive cruise control also could save dozens of lives each year.

Adaptive cruise control helps the driver to maintain a 3.6 second following distance; it also provides sequential deceleration activiation, which can prevent many rear end crashes that happen due to driver fatigue or inattention.

Our View

We are glad that automatic safety technology is coming to tractor trailers and other large commercial vehicles. There are far too many tractor trailer injuries and deaths each year.

Technology continues to improve: In 2009, the NHTSA mandated that tractor trailers upgrade their braking systems so that stopping distances for new rigs would be 30% shorter. This is helping to prevent 230 deaths and 330 serious injuries per year. But more can and should be done as automatic safety systems are added to trucks.

Our tractor trailer accident attorneys who are licensed in Virginia have worked on serious truck crashes that could have been prevented with automatic safety technology.

One client received a $5.5 million settlement for a Virginia truck crash when a truck rear ended their car at 45 MPH. The crash essentially caused the truck to run the small car over. Their two small children in the back suffered severe brain injuries when the front seats collapsed on their heads.

In that crash, the truck driver apparently fell asleep behind the wheel and did not even apply the brakes at all. This accident could have been avoided with automatic braking technology. We hope such systems will be mandatory soon.