AAA Makes The Case For More Safety Technology On Heavy Duty Trucks

One of the nation’s oldest insurance and roadway safety advocate organizations, AAA, has come out through their foundation with a report recommending that all heavy duty commercial motor vehicles be equipped with the latest safety technologies. The report is called Leveraging Large Truck Technology and Engineering to Realize Safety Gains.

According to the AAA Foundation, if every heavy duty commercial motor vehicle was equipped with advanced safety devices there would be a potential to prevent up to 63,000 large truck-related crashes per year.

Yet, where do they get the data to back up this assertion? According to in-house studies, in 2015 large trucks were involved in over 400,000 crashes. Of those crashes came over 4,000 deaths and 116,000 injuries. The sobering part? These statistics represent a 4 percent increase over the prior year.

With new safety technologies becoming more ubiquitous in the trucking industry, one can only wonder what kind of significant changes we may see should AAA’s recommendations become reality.

According to David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “This new research shows that the benefits of adding many of these technologies to trucks clearly outweigh the cost.”

Looking At The Details

AAA’s report took a hard look at both safety benefits and costs, including installation and training. They went on to break down the technologies they studied into four categories:

  1. Lane departure warning systems
  2. Automatic emergency braking systems
  3. Video-based safety systems
  4. Air disc brakes

Each of these categories were then broken down by their numbers to determine societal safety benefits, which essentially equates to the economic value of lives saved and injuries prevented. Then, they compared this with the cost of equipping these technologies on all existing large trucks.

What they found should be as no surprise. Per their analysis, the benefits brought by these systems far outweigh their up front costs.

The Breakdown

When you break down each particular category by dollar amount, the AAA Foundation’s initial assertion becomes clear. Taking lane departure warning systems as one example, if every truck were equipped with one, almost 6,400 accidents, over 1,300 injuries and 115 deaths could be avoided each year.

For video-based systems, the numbers are even more staggering. Since these advanced systems can handle a number of functions, their flexibility makes them a useful tool. Per the AAA Foundation’s report, were every truck equipped with video-based safety systems it would prevent up to 63,000 accidents, over 17,700 injuries and 293 deaths on an annual basis.

These are really stunning numbers. Of course, the worst possible outcomes is always death or injury. Fleet bottom line and litigation aside, the more lives that can be saved, the better.

Even addressing braking issues would have an outsized impact. Automatic emergency braking systems installed on all trucks would prevent nearly 5,300 crashes, over 2,700 injuries and 55 deaths.  Even air disc brakes alone could go a long way, preventing over 2,400 accidents, 1,400 injuries and 37 deaths.

Combine them all and the numbers will shock you. Going by AAA’s numbers, over 77,000 accidents, 21,800 injuries, and 385 deaths could be prevented. These surely are astounding numbers, to say the least.

Making this change should seem like a no-brainer, especially considering the public feels the same. A recent survey conducted in parallel with the AAA Foundation’s work revealed that a full six out of every ten adults – or around 61% – feel less safe when driving past heavy duty commercial motor vehicles. They list their main concerns as size, blind spots and unintentional drifting or swerving.

In the end, no matter what the AAA Foundation suggest or what a particular fleet decides, professional truck drivers and passenger motorists alike have a shared responsibility to be attentive and practice safe driving techniques at all times. While trucking companies mull over how much safety technology is needed, proper driving behavior can work wonder.