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Safety groups call for mandated implementation of crash avoidance systems in commercial trucks

San Diego area drivers who travel along Interstates 5 or 805 are all too familiar with congestion and dangerous driving conditions. Frequently, drivers travel at speeds in excess of posted limits and may have difficulty slowing down or stopping to account for accidents or heavy traffic.

Large commercial trucks are included among the thousands of motor vehicles that travel along these freeways each day and, at any moment, a truck driver must be prepared to slow down or stop. However, due to a tractor-trailer's size and weight, it takes much longer from the time a truck driver applies the brakes for a commercial truck to slow down or come to a complete stop.

Rear-end crashes involving commercial trucks are fairly common with, between 2003 and 2008, an average of 6,400 such accidents being reported annually. During this same timeframe, roughly 1,500 people were killed and several thousands more injured after being involved in rear truck collisions.

Taking aim to find ways to prevent rear-end truck collisions, several highway safety groups have called upon federal regulatory agencies to back a proposal calling for the mandated implementation of crash avoidance systems. Similar technologies are currently included in many high-end motor vehicles and work by using a system of "radar, cameras and computers," to detect where a motor vehicle is in relation to other cars and trucks. In cases where the system detects slowed or stopped traffic ahead, a driver is alerted and a vehicle's brakes engaged to avoid a rear-end collision.

A previous study conducted by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration estimated it would cost roughly $280 per truck to install this type of crash avoidance system. When compared against the great personal and financial costs truck accidents victims and their family members pay, the decision about whether or not to make this modest investment seems obvious.

Source: The New York Times, "Groups Seek Electronic Collision Alert Devices on Big Trucks," AP, Feb. 19, 2015

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