Young & McCarthy LLP

Is there a way for big-rigs to avoid collisions?

By 2022, most if not all new cars sold in the United States will come equipped with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems. The same cannot be said of 18-wheelers.

That makes the big rigs extremely dangerous on the roads. One study found that more than 4,300 people were killed in collisions with big trucks in 2016 – equal to two 737 jet-crashes a month.

Investigation into 18-wheeler safety

The study by the Kansas City Star showed that since the 1990s, the National Transportation Safety Board has been lobbying for greater safety measures – such as early warning and automatic braking – aboard big rigs, only to be denied by the federal regulatory agency National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The NTSB says many of the crashes, injuries and deaths in those decades would have been mitigated or avoided if common technology had been in place.

Several recent examples

Ten people were injured in a chain reaction accident earlier this month in North Carolina. A pickup truck stopped to make a left turn on a highway. Three trailing vehicles, including a flatbed truck carrying PVC pipe, collided into the pickup and each other. A garbage truck heading the other way was also involved.

One witness said he heard no sounds of squealing tires or brakes, just the sound of vehicles colliding with one another.

Meanwhile, two people were injured in a Vandalia, Ohio crash on Interstate 75 earlier this month that involved a school bus, two big rigs and a pickup truck.

A man and a woman on the bus suffered serious, non-life threatening injuries. No students were on the bus, officials said.

Troopers said a semi tractor-trailer slowed to avoid an unrelated crash, was rear-ended by the school bus which was then rear-ended by another semi tractor-trailer. The pickup was also involved, troopers said.

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