Automatic Emergency Braking And Its Effects On The Trucking Industry

Author PhotoBlueGrace Logistics - June 14, 2021

Automatic emergency braking systems can minimize trucking accidents, but concerns have been raised by the freight industry.

What’s covered in this article:

  • Identified Problems in Driver Safety

  • Benefits and Costs of Automatic Emergency Braking Systems

  • The Pushback on Implementation Legislation by Trucking Companies

  • Safety in the Trucking Industry

Trucking accidents are one of the freight industry’s most pressing concerns. Managing freight accidents is crucial for any transportation company.

Legislation proposed at Capitol Hill suggests using automatic braking systems to minimize truck accidents. But the idea has evoked concern in some fleet operators.

Safety Concerns – The Countable Accidents Caused By Trucks And How To Help It

Every year, about 500,000 trucking accidents occur in the United States. Approximately 123,918 large trucks faced non-fatal crashes, while about 49,084 of them resulted in fatalities.

Large trucks weighing upwards of 10,000 pounds are especially prone to more damage. Trucking accidents result in severities such as loss of life, injuries, property damages and vehicle damages. About 10% of trucking accidents result in deaths.

A single momentary lapse can result in cataclysmic damage.

Distraction and speeding are two common reasons for trucking accidents. Even if the driver is careful, mechanical failure, weather, and driver fatigue can still cause occasional slip-ups. A single momentary lapse can result in cataclysmic damage.

If the industry can find means to control such lapses, it can help to avoid truck accidents and save lives. One way is to ensure that drivers are well-rested before taking up their next delivery. Another way is to check brakes and tires and keep them well maintained periodically. Truckers must take care to avoid cell phone usage while driving, eating, and other distractions on the road. They must exercise caution while driving in poor weather conditions.

Installing IoT sensors in trucks, which are integral in working with traffic data, can prevent accidents. By measuring the working time between brake applications and truck stoppage, they can detect obstruction. As soon as they do this, they can trigger an automatic braking system to slow down or stop the trucks.

Improving Highway Safety – Forward Collision-Avoidance Mitigation And Automatic Emergency Braking

Forward Collision-Avoidance and Mitigation (FCAM) is a technology that combines forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking systems. It works with a radar that detects an upcoming crash and deploys automatic emergency braking to prevent it. Such automated systems can warn drivers and brake automatically in response to stationary vehicles and other objects on the road ahead.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) can eliminate more than 2500 truck crashes every year. A 2009 large truck causation study backs this claim. Such FCAM systems can prevent 25% of annual truck crashes. As a result, they can prevent injuries, reduce costs, and ensure the safety of truck drivers.

The recent legislation proposed at Capitol Hill requires all new trucks to mandate automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-assistance technology. The Protecting Roadside First Responders Act aims to install driver assistance systems such as AEB, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and blind-zone detection on commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds. By doing this, it aims to reduce crashes resulting from distracted driving.

The Truck Safety Coalition has called this bill a lifesaving move.

The Truck Safety Coalition has called this bill a lifesaving move. It has expressed particular appreciation for its role in keeping first responders such as truck drivers safe on the road.

Concerns Within The Industry – The Dark Side Of The Automatic Emergency Braking Mandate

Truck safety advocates such as The Truck Safety Coalition, Road Safe America, Advocated for Highway and Auto Safety, and Center for Auto Safety have celebrated this move. Despite this, small-business truckers have expressed their concerns.

In his letter to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Todd Spencer, president and CEO of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), talked about his doubts over AEB for heavy vehicles. Technology companies have yet to perfect AEB for heavy vehicles. Truck drivers have reported severe problems with this technology on the road.

According to Spencer, his members have expressed concerns over difficulty controlling trucks in bad weather. Highly activated systems leave little room for manual control. Drivers report breaks triggering automatically even without any danger in hindsight.

There’s another reason small trucking companies are hesitant towards automatic braking systems. For SMEs, operating AEBs and other technology-equipped fleets require additional expenses. Such high-end technology increases the cost of expansion. Deploying new trucks will become expensive and as result, small businesses may face problems in expanding at their intended pace, or see negative impacts on revenue. In a 2018 study, the NHTSA estimated $70.80-$316.18 as the incremental cost of AEB to the end-user.

While such legislation can improve the situation, bringing everyone on the same page with the FCAM and AEB regulation is going to be tricky. While advantageous on the surface, AEB poses its challenges if mandated for all types of trucking companies. Especially for small businesses and independent-fleet owners, FCAM and AEB can set back expansion.

Trucking companies must provide their fleet and drivers with as much safety as possible.

Until the industry finds a common ground to implement FCAM and AEB technologies across the trucking industry, trucking companies must provide their fleet and drivers with as much safety as possible. In addition to proper driver training and safety guidelines, TMS software can be helpful in managing and planning operations, along with foreseeing possible disruptions. Advanced technology that enables controlling options and organization of fleet and drivers optimizes both reliability and safety throughout the entire transport chain.

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