The National Safety Council reported that over 5,700 people died in heavy truck crashes in 2021. Safety on the road remains a top priority, especially when considering the massive heavy trucks and buses that share the asphalt with smaller vehicles.
To address this, the federal traffic safety agency has announced a significant step forward. Over the next five years, the government will mandate that heavy trucks and buses incorporate automatic emergency braking systems, a move expected to make roadways safer for all users.
Understanding the new braking system requirement
Automatic emergency braking systems are not a novelty; they already exist in various modern vehicles. These systems employ forward-facing cameras and sensor technologies that can detect an imminent crash. When the sensors detect a potential crash, and the driver has not applied the brakes or has not applied them sufficiently, the system automatically engages the brakes or supplements the driver’s braking effort. The aim is to minimize the impact or, in the best scenario, avoid the collision altogether.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s announcement extends the requirement of AEB systems beyond just passenger vehicles and light trucks, now including vehicles of substantial weight. Specifically, this new rule will apply to new trucks and buses weighing over 10,000 pounds, with the expectation that the heaviest trucks (those over 26,000 pounds) will have these systems installed within three years after the rule becomes final. For vehicles weighing between 10,000 and 26,000 pounds, the deadline extends to 2028. These systems will function at speeds ranging from 6 to 50 miles per hour.
What does this mean for you and road safety?
These changes come after careful consideration of statistics and the potential benefits of such a rule. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, heavy trucks and buses account for about 60,000 rear-end crashes each year. With the new rule in place, the agency projects that AEB systems can prevent more than 19,000 of these crashes annually, saving 155 lives and averting almost 9,000 injuries each year. This rule will not only protect the truck and bus drivers but also everyone else sharing the road.
However, as with all technology, AEB systems are not without their challenges. Some manufacturers have faced issues with these systems activating without a clear reason. It is essential to keep refining the technology to ensure its reliability and effectiveness.
As you navigate the roads, be it in your car or on foot, you can expect to see an increase in the number of heavy vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking systems. This enhancement, a blend of technology and regulation, aims to make the roads a safer place for everyone.