Crash Avoidance System May Have Reduced Truck Crash Damage

A collision avoidance system could have prevented or lessened the severity of a 2016 tractor trailer and SUV crash in Kansas that killed six and injured five in 2016, according to a new report released by trhe National Transportation Safety Board. 

NTSB reported that the study shows the need to implement 15 safety recommendations that are associated with the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements for collision avoidance, occupant protection and fatigue for commercial and private vehicles.

In the Kansas crash, a seven passenger SUV with 11 people inside was hit from the rear on I-70 near Goodland KS on June 29, 2016 at 2:15 am. Survivors of the fatal truck crash stated they thought the SUV was going approximately 40 MPH, which was the minimum speed limit for the highway. Engine data on the truck showed the cruise control was being used and was set at 75 MPH when the impact occurred.

The truck was driven by a 27 year old driver who have three years of trucking experience. The truck driver applied the brakes and steered to the left when he was 100 feet from the SUV. The federal investigation found that at least 50% of the logbook entries for the driver were inconsistent with other information found in the truck. There also was evidence that after he worked a day schedule, he was driving all night and may have gotten only five hours of sleep in the previous 22 hours.

The NTSB found that the trucker’s failure to take proper action to avoid the accident was due to his general fatigue and his surprise at encountering an SUV that was going slowly on the highway. Also, the lack of a collision avoidance system on the big rig was a contributing factor to the severity of the wreck. NTSB stated in the report that a collision avoidance system that could have automatically applied the brakes might have prevented the crash entirely; it is possible such a system would have become aware of the slow moving SUV much earlier than the truck driver.

For many years, the NTSB has been pushing for collision avoidance technologies on tractor trailer.

Our View

Our tractor trailer accident attorneys in Virginia would like to see the federal government require accident avoidance systems on tractor trailers in the US. We worked on a case in Virginia in 2010 where our client’s vehicle was rear ended on I-64 in Norfolk by a tractor trailer at night. He was driving slowly on the road after a tire problem. The resulting crash killed him. It is possible that an collision avoidance system could have prevented this crash, which resulted in a $3.5 million settlement.