DETROIT – Safety features such as automatic emergency braking and forward collision warnings could prevent more than 40% of crashes in which semis rear-end other vehicles, a new study has found.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group supported by auto insurers, also found that when the rear crashes happened, the systems cut the speeds by over 50%, reducing damage and injuries.
The institute called on the federal government to require the systems on new large trucks and said many truck fleet operators are already adding emergency braking on their own.
“Rear-end crashes with trucks and other vehicles happen a lot, often with horrible consequences,” said Eric Teoh, the institute's director of statistical services who did the study. “This is an important countermeasure to that.”
Trucks with collision warning systems reduced rear crashes by 44%, while automatic emergency braking cut rear crashes by 41%, the study found.
To reach his conclusions, Teoh examined crash data per vehicle mile traveled at 62 trucking companies that use tractor-trailers or other trucks weighing at least 33,000 pounds (15,000 kilograms). The study found about 2,000 crashes that happened over more than 2 billion miles (3.2 billion kilometers) traveled from 2017 through 2019.
The study compared trucks from the same companies that were equipped with collision warning alone, automatic emergency braking, and no crash prevention features at all, the IIHS said.
The IIHS also found that trucks equipped with a collision warning system had 22% fewer crashes than those without either technology. For automatic emergency braking, the figure was 12%.