STATEMENT OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON SENATE COMMERCE HEARING ON AUTONOMOUS TRUCKS

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

STATEMENT OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON SENATE COMMERCE HEARING ON AUTONOMOUS TRUCKS

ARLINGTON, VA (September 13, 2017) – The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) thanks Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for holding this important hearing, “Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks and our Nation’s Highways.” We look forward to working with members of the committee as well as safety advocates, technology companies, and leaders in the trucking industry to continue discussing the role of autonomous technologies in commercial motor vehicles and to develop an oversight framework that prioritizes safety first.

TSC recognizes the potential safety benefits of autonomous technologies in trucking, especially at a time when truck crashes continue to climb. Since 2009, truck crashes have gone up by 45 percent, resulting in a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities and a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries. To make matters worse, truck vehicle miles decreased by 3 percent in that same time, meaning that the truck crash involvement, truck crash injury, and truck crash fatality rates have all increased over the past six years.

While TSC is excited that autonomous technologies have the potential to prevent and mitigate thousands of crashes resulting from human error, we also want to ensure that the process for testing and developing AV technology in trucks does not jeopardize public safety. As we continue to figure out the details of the regulatory framework associated with AV technology, we urge lawmakers to work towards mandating automatic emergency braking and heavy vehicle speed limiters on all trucks. Both of these technologies serve as building blocks to achieving a fully autonomous truck, and, more importantly, can reduce crashes, prevent injuries, and save lives today, rather than several years from now.

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Automatic Emergency Braking

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) technology is a proven highway safety technology that could and will save countless lives and prevent injuries.  Unfortunately, after years of study and successful use by leading motor carriers, this technology has yet to be required for commercial motor vehicles.  As the public endures continued delays to require equipment that is readily available, families across the nation have had to pay the ultimate price.

In order to prevent these needless deaths and injuries, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should mandate AEB technology on all large trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more. While the agency granted the petition submitted on February 19, 2015 by the Truck Safety Coalition, Road Safe America, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Center for Auto Safety this past October, action is long overdue and we call on NHTSA to produce a final rule.

On average, each year, 4,000 people are killed and another 100,000 more are injured in truck crashes. Sadly, these losses are mounting, which is why it is so important for the government to take action. Each year an AEB Final Rule is delayed, more Americans will be killed in large truck crashes.

NHTSA estimates that current generation AEB systems can prevent more than 2,500 crashes each year and that future generation systems could prevent more than 6,300 crashes annually. Every year a full implementation of AEB is delayed, research estimates that 166 people will unnecessarily die and another 8,000 individuals will suffer serious injuries.

To save these lives, prevent injuries, reduce costs, and ensure families remain whole, we call on Congress to immediately mandate AEB technology in all large trucks.

Crash Avoidance Technologies Fact Sheet