Two studies have found that automatic emergency braking systems could prevent more than 2,500 tractor-trailer accidents in the U.S. each year, but a proposed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation that would mandate their use has been mired in Congress for 12 years. Lawmakers have also failed to implement a rule that would require commercial vehicle operators to use the speed limiting devices that are fitted to virtually all large trucks in North Carolina and across the country.
Road safety advocacy groups frustrated by the delays have formed a coalition to prompt lawmakers into finally taking action. It is headed by the Georgia-based Road Safe America and the Truck Safety Coalition, which is headquartered in Virginia. They point to research such as the two brake studies and figures from the FMCSA that reveal tractor-trailers are approximately twice as likely to be involved in speed-related commercial truck accidents when their speed limiters are not switched on.
The coalition hopes that an upcoming infrastructure bill will provide a way to finally get the long-delayed regulations implemented, but there is opposition from trade groups such as the American Trucking Associations. The ATA says that it endorses speed limiters as long as lawmakers require cars to use them also, but it objects to the mandatory installation of costly AEB systems.
While regulations may not require truck drivers and commercial vehicle operators to use the potentially lifesaving AEB systems fitted to their tractor-trailers, failing to do so could be difficult to explain to a jury when other road users are injured or killed in speed-related crashes that they could have prevented. Gathering this kind of evidence is why experienced personal injury attorneys often have the trucks that harmed their clients inspected.