Highway Safety Groups Advocate Mandatory Truck Crash Prevention Systems

A recent petition filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeks laws requiring an electronic alert and automatic braking system on tractor-trailers and large buses in order to prevent collisions.

The petitioners — Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, the Center for Auto Safety and Road Safe America — support technology known as forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking, or F-CAM, on all trucks and buses weighing at least 10,000 pounds. They say the technology could particularly reduce the number of crashes between trucks and cars in highway construction zones, where stalled traffic is common.

How F-CAM Works

An F-CAM system combines a forward collision warning system and collision mitigation braking, according to the petition.

A collision warning system uses equipment such as radar and cameras to gather data on vehicles and other objects on the road. If this system senses a collision, it sends an alert to the driver to take action to avoid the crash. If the driver does not respond to the signal, the collision mitigation braking technology slows or stops the vehicle.

Problems Despite Prevalence

The group says that almost all automakers offer F-CAM systems in their vehicles. However, there are only 100,000 systems installed on 11 million U.S. buses and large trucks.

The petitioners emphasize the role of F-CAM systems in preventing rear-end collisions, and research has found that F-CAM technology has the potential to reduce incidents that cause rear-end collisions by 23 to 28 percent. In addition, a separate study found that in each year from 2003 to 2008, at least 300 people died and more than 15,000 were injured when trucks rear-ended other vehicles, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Mandatory regulation of F-CAM technology “is the only means capable of ensuring widespread implementation and the uniform level of performance necessary to realize optimal safety benefits throughout the vehicle fleet,” leaders of the safety organizations say in the petition.

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