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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Do Trucks Have Automatic Emergency Brakes?

by Jared Staver in Truck Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports somewhat startling statistics about the frequency and unfortunate consequences of accidents involving large trucks – they are the striking vehicle in an estimated 32,000 crashes each year that result in 300 deaths and over 15,000 injuries. Even more disturbing is that these statistics are on the rise despite the number of registered trucks and miles traveled essentially holding constant over the last five years. Simply put, installing automatic emergency brakes in trucks could mean the difference between life and death.

If either you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident that automatic emergency brakes may have prevented, then we can help thanks to our reputation as knowledgeable Chicago trucking accident lawyers. Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 and let us help you determine your rights and how to legally exercise them.

What are Automatic Emergency Brakes?

While what people call them – forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking or F-CAM systems, crash avoidance systems or CAS, collision mitigation system, or just automatic emergency brakes – often varies, the intent and purpose of the technology are the same – to detect and to at least reduce the damage caused by (if not completely avoid) an imminent crash. Radars, lasers, and cameras with viewing capabilities sometimes as much as three times the typical follow distance on highways enable this. Automatic emergency brakes alert the driver of an upcoming obstacle before they either slow or stop the truck if the driver fails to react to that signal.

First made available on large trucks as early as 2006, the technology is now more than a decade old, yet not one universally adopted. While thousands of trucks in the U.S. include automatic braking systems, installing them is not yet mandatory like it has been in the European Union since 2012.

Automatic Emergency Brakes Save Lives

The world watched in horror when, in December 2016, a semi-trailer purposefully crashed a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, leaving 12 people dead and 56 injured. While the attack sent soundwaves around the world, the one silver lining to the otherwise back cloud of a terrorist event was that far fewer people were harmed than if the truck had not had automatic emergency brakes installed. The technology potentially saved hundreds of lives because it caused the truck to stop after traveling about 250 feet when the automatic emergency brakes engaged after sensing an impending collision.

The technology might have also saved the lives of five nursing students less than two years earlier when they were unfortunately killed in a highway crash caused by a tractor trailer on their way to their final day of clinical rotations. The truck driver failed to stop for the bumper-to-bumper traffic and instead spurred a multi-vehicle pileup.

How Automatic Emergency Brakes Can Help

The tonnage of truck freight shipments is expected to significantly increase over the next decade and a half, which means the potential for truck collisions will also significantly increase. This fact cannot be overlooked considering how much more dangerous large trucks have become in recent years. In fact, the rate of accidents grew from 29.26 fatal crashes per 100,000 trucks in 2009 to 36.86 per 100,000 in 2013. NHTSA found nearly two in three (64 percent) of those collisions involved frontal impact by trucks, and that kind of rear-end collision could have been avoided with automatic emergency brakes.

While some truck drivers at least initially consider the technology an insult to their professional skills and abilities, those who experience it generally revise their thinking as they come to appreciate the value it adds. Moreover, NHTSA predicts these brakes can prevent over 2,500 accidents per year in the near future, which is especially critical since the costs of motor vehicle crashes exceed $100 billion each year.

Contact Chicago Trucking Accident Lawyers to Help

A personal injury case can be stressful and angst-ridden, but Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help determine if and how to seek financial compensation when accidents involve trucks. We will review all the facts to make an informed decision about next steps even as we will help you navigate them to your advantage.

Learn how Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can make a difference by calling (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free consultation.