The most recent information released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that in some years, over 317,000 road accidents involving large trucks have occurred. Around 73% of those fatally injured, meanwhile, are passengers in other vehicles, which can clearly be attributed to the larger mass of 18-wheelers and other large trucks. Additionally, some larger vehicles (such as loaded tractor-trailers) can take considerably longer to stop, and this is especially the case if drivers are on wet or slippery roads. New technologies are stepping in to reduce the impact of 18-wheelers and other large vehicles on the road. Just a few that have been recently touted include senor technology, automatic braking systems, and blindspot erasing cameras.
New Sensor Technology For 18-Wheelers
18-wheelers can now rely on multifaceted sensor systems that include those that detect skids and tighten seatbelts, as well as those that control sunroofs (to avoid the sun blinding drivers temporarily), and those that detect when a driver is tired or distracted. Blind spot sensors can also be easily mounted on either side of the vehicle to alert drivers of areas which are difficult to spot. Lane sensors, meanwhile, can help ensure that drivers continue to drive within their designated lanes.
Advanced ABS Systems
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that there is “a statistically significant 6% reduction in crashes” involving large vehicles, while there is a 2% reduction in the crash involvement in fatal crashes, when Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) are employed. New technology includes Electronic Braking Systems (EBS), which activate brake components when necessary, thus helping to reduce braking distances. This technology can be used on full battery, hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell trucks, as well as traditional fuel-run vehicles. Reducing braking distances is key to avoid injury, loss of life, and economic loss. Most 18 wheeler accident lawyers warn truck companies that the extent of damage that can potentially be caused by heavy trucks to smaller vehicles can result in lawsuits worth millions owing to the significant damage, pain and hardship caused.
Big strides are also being made in autonomous driving technology, with companies like Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) having recently developed autonomous trucks that take charge of steering, braking and throttling, thus relieving the driver of many key duties. With these technologies, trucks will be able to constantly evaluate the state of the road and respect lane markings and safe vehicle distances. By activating the truck’s cruise control switch, they will then permit the vehicle to steer the vehicle.
Sensors, ABs/EBS and autonomous driving are three technologies aimed at improving truck safety. The developments are clearly necessary, considering the damage (both personally and economically) that accidents can cause. Trucks are bigger, go a longer distance when braking, and have considerably greater masses than standard vehicles. Therefore, new technologies are continually being developed, with self-driving trucks marking the way to the future.