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There are more than 3.5 million truck drivers on U.S. highways.

And, with the total tonnage of truck freight shipments predicted to increase by as much as 35 percent by 2040, the need to make trucks safer for everyone on the road is both urgent and imperative.

In this new era of vehicle safety, the focus has shifted from protecting occupants when a crash happens to preventing crashes from ever occurring.

According to an AAA report released in 2017, large trucks with a gross vehicle rating of more than 10,000 pounds were involved in 400,000 crashes, resulting in over 4,000 deaths and 116,000 injuries in 2015. This is a 4 percent increase from 2014.

Fortunately, there is trucking technology available to prevent needless crashes. One safety measure that would curb frequent and fatal truck crashes is the use of automatic emergency braking, or AEB, systems.

Installing advanced safety technologies, such as AEB, on all large trucks could potentially prevent 63,000 crashes, 17,733 injuries and 293 deaths annually, according to the AAA report.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that front collision alerts with AEB slashes the rate of front-to-rear crashes in light vehicles by half.

How does automatic emergency braking work?

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) and forward collision avoidance technology uses radar and sensors to first alert the driver and then to apply the brakes when a crash is imminent. The systems employ a forward collision warning to inform a driver when his or her vehicle gets too close to another vehicle that is stopped or traveling more slowly ahead. This gives the driver a chance to stop in time. When the system determines that a crash is about to occur, the AEB system automatically applies the brakes to prevent the crash or reduce the severity of the crash.

Does adding new braking technology outweigh the costs?

When you look at the cost of medical care, emergency medical services, property damage, lost productivity and the monetized value of pain, suffering and short/long-term disability resulting from crashes, those costs are far greater than any trucking industry expenses associated with purchasing the technology, installing it, maintaining it, and training drivers and managers.

The economic cost to society from commercial motor vehicle crashes exceeds $100 billion annually. Adding AEB to the trucking fleet is not only cost effective, but is a big step in reducing highway accidents, fatalities, highway congestion and emissions.

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