According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are between two and three rear-end collisions involving commercial tractor trailers every hour in the United States on average. There is technology that can help deter these accidents; however, most trucking manufacturers fail to implement the systems, despite the low cost. These technologies provide truckers with "following distance alerts" to let drivers know if they are too close to oncoming traffic. The systems will even automatically apply the truck's breaks if the driver fails to respond to these alerts. Tests show that the sensors can seriously help reduce damage during rear-end collisions with large trucks and have even proven to avoid collisions altogether.
This technology, known as a "collision mitigation system," integrates with the truck's anti-lock brakes, the roll stability control, and the electronic stability control of the truck. These systems keep the wheels from locking during emergency braking situations, use wheel speed sensors, and determine the potential for rollover as the truck approaches an upcoming vehicle. The collision mitigation system also reduces the truck's throttle and will even apply foundation brakes to avoid lateral sliding if necessary.
Once a safe, pre-set distance is entered into the system and that distance is compromised based on truck speed and collision distance, the system alerts drivers and may automatically brake the truck if the systems calculates a collision is imminent. One collision mitigation system manufacturer's tests show that its technology will use a third of the force to brake a moving truck so that truckers can maintain control of their trucks while the truck is automatically braking. Once the driver manually pushes the brakes, he or she can override the system's braking apparatus to take control of the situation.
Unfortunately, many manufacturers forego using this technology when they are building their trucks. Although it may seem that such a high-tech braking system would cost truck manufacturers a lot of money, the fact is that most of these systems only cost manufacturers between $2500 and $4000. Considering many rigs are sold for better than $100,000 from the factory, the cost is inconsequential when considering the millions of dollars in damage and the thousands of lives it could save if widely implemented. Studies show that two-thirds of people riding in passenger vehicles who are involved in commercial truck rear-end collisions will die as a result. The NHTSA believes this number could be exponentially reduced if collision mitigation systems were required for truck manufacturers.