Could the federal rule change save lives in Texas?
Rear-end accidents are among the most severe and deadly wrecks a person can get into with a semi-truck, tractor-trailer, or another type of large commercial vehicle. That's one reason why federal regulators are moving toward requiring safety measures to reduce rear-end truck accidents.
In June, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a "notice of proposed rulemaking" to mandate new heavy vehicles be equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems.
Requiring automatic emergency brakes in large trucks has the potential to save many lives and reduce the severity of large truck accidents - especially in Texas. With 806 deaths due to truck accidents, no state reported more fatal large truck wrecks than Texas in 2021. About 144 of the deaths were rear-end collisions.
Brakes are a factor in 30% of truck accidents
Brake problems factor into about 30% of large truck accidents, according to the FMCSA. Requiring AEBs wouldn't prevent all rear-end crashes involving 18-wheelers, but it would almost certainly help. Nationwide, there are approximately 60,000 rear-end crashes a year in which the heavy vehicle is the striking vehicle. The NHTSA estimates the proposed rule would prevent 19,118 crashes, save 155 lives, and prevent 8,814 injuries per year.
Brake-related rear-end truck accidents happen due to various circumstances. Common factors in hit-from-behind truck accidents include:
- Brake failure.
- Brakes out of adjustment.
- Old or worn-out brakes, poor maintenance.
- Driver fatigue.
- Distracted driving.
- Alcohol- or drug-impaired driving.
Trucking industry support for AEB rule change
Although trucking companies have resisted some past equipment mandates, the push to require AEB systems has the support of the American Trucking Association.
"ATA has long supported the use of AEB on all new vehicles," ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath said in a statement. "With NHTSA's recent regulation requiring AEB on all new passenger vehicles, this proposal for heavy-duty trucks is timely and appropriate."
Horvath said there is industry support for the spirit of the potential regulation, but the proposed rule's text requires further scrutiny.
AEB systems can prevent crashes because they utilize advanced technology that detects potential collisions and automatically apply the brakes in emergency situations. Basically, if the system determines that a collision is imminent and the driver has not taken corrective action, it provides warning signals to alert the driver. This can include visual alerts on the dashboard, audible alarms, or even haptic feedback, such as vibrating the steering wheel or the seat.
If the driver fails to respond to the warnings or does not apply sufficient braking force, the automated system takes over and initiates emergency braking. It can apply the brakes with maximum force to bring the truck to a stop or significantly reduce its speed, thereby minimizing the severity of the potential collision.
We stand up for East Texas truck accident victims
AEB systems reduce the risk that trucker negligence such as distracted driving and falling asleep at the wheel will cause a bad crash. They also improve a vehicle's reaction time, increase braking precision, and increase a trucker's awareness of road conditions, other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.
By mandating the use of automated emergency braking systems on trucks, regulators aim to improve road safety, reduce the number of rear-end semi-truck crashes, and minimize the associated injuries and fatalities.
Weinstein Law supports measures that increase safety for all road users. For more than 20 years, our East Texas law firm has fought for the rights of injured crash victims by holding negligent trucking companies and truckers accountable.
If you were injured in a Texas truck accident, schedule a free case consultation to see how an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you. We can listen to the details of what happened, explain your potential legal options, and help you decide what to do next.
We also represent truck accident victims on a contingency fee basis. That means there are no upfront or out-of-pocket expenses for our services. And if we don't win, you don't pay. It's that simple.
We proudly serve communities throughout East Texas from our Athens office. Can't come to us? We can go to you. If you were injured or a loved one died in a Texas truck accident, contact us today.