If commercial trucks were equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision warning systems, it could reduce their rear-end collisions by two-fifths, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The study involved tractor-trailers and other trucks that weighed at least 33,000 pounds. Those trucks that were equipped with forward collision warning systems were involved in 22% fewer crashes. Trucks with AEB were involved in 12% fewer crashes compared to trucks with neither system.

These systems are intended to reduce rear-end collisions, which can be catastrophic when involving a large truck. The two systems reduced rear-end collisions, specifically, by 44% and 41%.

Even when an AEB system cannot fully prevent a crash, it can still reduce its severity. This is true for vehicles with only forward collision warnings, too, because drivers have more time to react and slow down. The reduced speed is what reduces the severity. Both systems reduced crash speed by over 50%.

The study reviewed about 2,000 crashes that occurred during 2017-19, excluding those that caused no injuries or significant property damage.

A truck accident can be devastating

We often think that a rear-end collision is no big deal. But commercial trucks can weigh 20-30 times as much as a passenger car. In 2018, 4,136 people were killed in crashes with trucks, and 119 of those fatalities involved being rear-ended by a large truck.

How do these systems work?

Front-crash prevention systems rely on radar, cameras and other sensors. They monitor the upcoming roadway for obstacles such as other vehicles. Some systems only warn drivers of obstacles, while AEB automatically applies the brakes to reduce the severity of the collision or prevent it entirely.

Why aren’t these systems required?

In the U.S., neither of these systems is required by law on any vehicle. That said, the 20 car makers that deliver 99% of U.S. passenger vehicles are moving toward making AEB standard by 2022. That was done by voluntary agreement with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the IIHS.

We know these systems work. Studies found that AEB reduces rear-end crash rates by 56%. Other research has found that AEB reduces property damage and injury claims.

“The potential benefits are great enough that these crash avoidance systems should be standard equipment on all new large trucks,” said a spokesperson for the IIHS.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash with a large truck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.