Automatic Emergency Braking – Prime Time for Regulation

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States

Automatic Emergency Braking – Prime Time for Regulation

Written by Jacqueline Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. This is one in a series of periodic guest columns by industry thought leaders.

Truck crashes are a serious public health and safety problem. Each year on average, 4,000 people are killed in large-truck crashes. That is equivalent to the death toll of a major airplane crash every other week of the year. Another 100,000 people are injured annually. The economic cost to society from commercial motor vehicle crashes exceeds $100 billion annually.

Alarmingly, we have experienced a 15 percent increase in fatalities and a staggering 50 percent rise in the number of people injured in large-truck crashes since 2009. With total tonnage of truck freight shipments predicted to increase as much as 35 percent by 2040, the urgent need to make trucks safer for all motorists has never been greater.

Fortunately, we already have solutions to significantly improve safety and prevent needless crashes. One common sense safety measure that would curb frequent and fatal truck crashes is the use of automatic emergency braking, or AEB, systems. Yet, in a column published by Trucks.com, truck driver Shelley Uvanile-Hesch argued that AEB technology needs more research before requiring it for new trucks. We respectfully disagree.

The federal agency responsible for regulating this issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has studied rear-end crashes, which are the primary target of automatic braking technology, and estimated that the death and injury toll is significant. Large trucks are the striking vehicle in approximately 32,000 crashes resulting in 300 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries annually. The agency further estimates that with automatic braking systems tuned to react to both moving and stopped lead vehicles, nearly 60 percent of fatalities and injuries in these types of collisions could be prevented.

Automatic braking technology has been offered on large trucks since at least 2006, making the technology nearly a decade old. Manufacturers and suppliers continue to improve the technology and expand its capabilities. In fact, NHTSA recently released a report on a field study of crash avoidance systems, or CAS, finding that in over 3 million miles of data, no rear-end crashes of the type that CAS are designed to prevent occurred from subject vehicles. It also found that while improvements to the systems can be made, they generally work as intended.

Yet Ms. Uvanile-Hesch’s experience does highlight an issue for concern. While the technology exists to put effective crash avoidance systems in trucks, we must make sure that it works properly. That’s why we need a minimum federal safety standard to ensure that the technology currently in use is reliable and meets basic requisites of functionality. In fact, some motor carriers already are paying to install this technology on new trucks even though there are no guarantees that it will perform as advertised.

That needs to change.

My organization, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety — together with other consumer, public health and safety groups as well as truck crash victims and survivors — has petitioned NHTSA to act. Our petition requests that the agency require the use of forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking, or F-CAM, systems on all new large trucks and buses with a minimum gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds.

F-CAM technology uses radar and sensors to first alert the driver and then to apply the brakes when a crash is imminent. F-CAM systems employ a Forward Collision Warning, or FCW, to inform a driver when his or her vehicle gets too close to another vehicle that is stopped or traveling more slowly ahead. This gives the driver a chance to brake in time. When the system determines that a crash is about to occur, a Collision Mitigation Braking, or CMB, system automatically applies the brakes to prevent the crash or reduce its severity.

NHTSA estimates that current generation F-CAM systems can prevent over 2,500 crashes each year and that future systems could prevent more than 6,300 crashes annually.

Our petition urges the establishment of performance requirements. Other critical safety systems in cars and trucks must meet minimum federal standards, including brakes, seat belts, air bags, tires, headlamps and electronic stability control. In the absence of a federal standard, each manufacturer and supplier can design its system to function differently and, in some cases, ineffectively. All drivers should be afforded the assurance that the automatic braking technology will perform at the most critical moments in the driving task. These standards would also include requirements for durability and other aspects of performance. Without a regulation, design and performance choices made by manufacturers and suppliers may not result in sufficient braking capability to guarantee safety and reliability.

Furthermore, our petition focused on automatic braking systems that would only operate in emergencies, and would not interfere with advanced cruise control or other types of systems. That addresses some of the problems Ms. Uvanile-Hesch said she encountered driving her big rig. Automatic braking systems are intended to intervene only when a collision is imminent and to take control of braking only when a driver has failed to apply the brakes or perform any evasive maneuver.

Purchasing a new car or truck involves numerous decisions by the prospective buyer, including cost and safety features. AEB is a crash avoidance technology that will prevent crashes and will result in saving lives and saving money. This important lifesaving technology should be standard equipment on all new trucks and buses and should be required to meet minimum federal performance requirements. It is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that safety systems on planes, trains, trucks and cars work well and work every time. Less-than-ideal performance of current automatic braking systems actually sounds the alarm on the urgent need for NHTSA to establish uniform safety standards for AEB.

Editor’s note: Jacqueline Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, has devoted her career to advancing highway, auto, and motor carrier safety. She has held senior positions in government and public-interest organizations. 

Link: https://www.trucks.com/2016/06/23/automatic-emergency-braking-ready/

Recent FedEx Crashes

We wanted to bring to your attention several disturbing crashes that have occurred recently. There are several contributing factors that caused these crashes, such as double tractor-trailers, fatigue, and failure to stop in time. But all of these crashes share one thing in common – a FedEx truck was involved.

Pennsylvania: FedEx truck hits Wayne Valley H.S. school bus on class trip to Dorney Park

http://newjersey.news12.com/news/fedex-truck-hits-wayne-valley-h-s-school-bus-on-class-trip-to-dorney-park-1.11886818

Texas: I-30 Reopens After FedEx Truck Crashes, Spills Fuel

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/FedEx-Truck-Crashes-Shuts-Down-I-30-in-Dallas-381080171.html

California: 1 Dead, 4 Injured in Interstate 5 Crash Near Coalinga

http://abc30.com/news/1-dead-4-injured-in-interstate-5-crash-near-coalinga/1327088/

Mississippi: FedEx [double trailer] truck involved in Highway 78 crash

http://www.wdam.com/story/31961768/fedex-truck-involved-in-highway-78-crash

California: CHP Details Deadly Big Rig Crash on I-10 in Cabazon (FedEx double tractor trailer)

http://patch.com/california/banning-beaumont/least-one-killed-cabazon-big-rig-crash-i-10-chp-0

Tennessee: FedEx [double tractor trailer] driver issued fatigue citation after 8-vehicle crash on I-24

http://wkrn.com/2016/05/05/crash-on-i-24-w-near-ohb-causing-significant-delays/

Texas: 18-wheeler crash shuts down I-35 in Salado (FedEx double tractor-trailer)

http://www.newswest9.com/story/31556016/18-wheeler-crash-shuts-down-i-35-in-salado

Tennessee: Answers sought after FedEx [double trailer] truck captured swerving for 60 miles on I-40 (no crash, but watch video)

http://wkrn.com/2016/06/08/answers-sought-after-fedex-truck-captured-swerving-for-60-miles-on-i-40/

Three People Dead and a Child in Critical Conditions due to a Truck Crash in Montgomery County, TX

On April 23, 2016, at approximately 11:00 a.m., a truck driver driving an 18-wheeler was on Texas 105 near South Walker Road when traffic slowed down due to a slow moving convoy. He failed to slow down and crashed into the back of a Mercedes Sedan. The impact forced the Mercedes into the back of Cadillac Sedan. A total of four vehicles were impacted in the crash.

Two people died at the scene. Both victims were identified as Eric Shirley, 57, and his passenger, Doris Moorer, 76. A mother, identified as Jennifer Crain, 31, and her son were taken to Conroe Regional Medical Center. Ms. Crain succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. Her son was transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for treatment of critical injuries.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the truck driver failed to control his speed before crashing into four vehicles. The truck driver was charged with three second degree felony counts of intoxication manslaughter and one felony count of injury to a child. The crash is under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Trucks with weak underride guards, or none at all, offer little to no protection for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who can possibly crash into the sides or rear of a truck and trailer. Rear underride guards are required on many trucks and trailers, but the standard is antiquated and ineffective in preventing underride crashes from becoming injurious or fatal. Overall, more than 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 injured in large truck crashes every year in the United States and a portion of the preventable fatal crashes involve underride.

To find more information please visit the website: www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org.

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21 Years Old Man Died after Semi-Truck Slammed into Tractor in Jefferson County, Idaho

On April 27, 2016, at approximately 4:23 p.m., when McNeil Walker, 21, was driving a John Deere tractor southbound on I-15 when a semi-truck struck him from behind. The impact of the crash sent both vehicles rolling into the median. Walker died at the scene.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Idaho State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org  

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Husband and Wife Died in a Truck Crash in Edgar County, IL

On May 17, 2016, at approximately 11:21 a.m., Clyde Kingery, 82 was traveling northbound on IL Route 49 with his wife, Mary Kingery, 79, when a southbound tractor-trailer left the roadway and re-entered it, traveling into the northbound lane. Mr. Kingery attempted to move onto the right shoulder of the highway, but the semi struck his Buick Regal head-on.

Ms. Kingery died instantly from injuries sustained in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr. Kingery Jr. was extricated from the wreckage and transported to the emergency room at Paris Community Hospital. He was pronounced dead in the ER at 1:18 p.m.

The truck driver and his passenger were transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The crash is under investigation by the Illinois State Patrol.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

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Two Dead after Truck Crash in Henry County, KY

On April 12, 2016, at approximately 4:00 a.m., the driver, identified as Jordan Mefford, 23, and his girlfriend, Jacqueline Hayes, 26, were driving southbound on I-71 in Henry County when a tractor-trailer traveling north crossed the median and struck their vehicle.

 

Jacqueline Hayes was pronounced dead at the scene and Jordan Mefford was airlifted to University of Louisville Hospital for treatment, but later died that night due to his injuries.

 

The driver of the tractor trailer was also taken to the University of Louisville Hospital for treatment. The crash is under investigation by the Kentucky State Police.

 

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

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Man riding Farm Tractor Killed by a Large Truck in Christian County, KY

On April 27, 2016, at approximately 2:17 p.m., Jerry Williams, 43, was driving a farm tractor westbound on U.S. Highway 68 in the right lane. The farm tractor was pulling a trailer loaded with wooden pallets when a large truck also driving westbound struck him from behind.

The truck driver attempted to merge into the left lane when he observed a motorcycle approaching in the left lane, so he had to return to the right lane to avoid hitting the motorcycle. He tried to brake, but was unsuccessful causing him to his hit Mr. Williams from behind.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Kentucky State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

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One person dead, Two Injured in a Three Vehicle Truck Crash in Windom County, Vermont

On April 26, 2016, at approximately 3:30 p.m., Dean Tkaczyk, 54, was driving northbound on Vermont Route 30 when her vehicle was struck from by behind by a large truck. The impact of the crash caused Ms. Tkaczyk to hit a car driven by Andrea Fields, 48.

Ms. Fields’ passenger, Charlene Higgins, 88, was transported to Brattlebro Memorial Hospital then transferred to Baystate Medical Center where she later died due to her injuries. Ms. Field was transported to Brattlebro Memorial Hospital for treatment of a neck injury. Ms. Tkaczyk was also treated there for her shoulder injury.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is currently under investigation.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

One Man Dead after Semi-Truck Crashed into a Motel in El Paso, Texas

On May 6, 2016, at approximately 10:15 a.m., a truck driver was driving a tractor-trailer eastbound on I-10, when he lost control. The tractor-trailer exited the interstate, traveled through a parking lot and a brick wall before crashing into the Studio 6 Hotel. The truck struck Derreset Brown, 51, who was sleeping in a first floor room. Brown was pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to La Palmas Medical Center for treatment. The crash is under investigation by the El Paso Police Department.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

TDOT Employee Killed in Truck Crash, Hickman County, TN

On April 28, 2016, at approximately 9:40 a.m., a worker with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), David Younger, 65, was standing in front of his TDOT vehicle with his co-workers on I-40. Three TDOT vehicles pulled over on the side of the road with their emergency lights activated as they unloaded equipment from one of the vehicles. Mr. Younger was waiting for help to change a flat tire when a tractor-trailer veered off the interstate and struck his vehicle, which then struck him. Mr. Younger was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three TDOT employees were injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. The truck driver was also injured. He was also transported for treatment of injuries and has criminal charges pending against him as a result of the crash.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org  

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP