On November 1, 2017, the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, also known as the Trucking Alliance, released a statement endorsing the conclusions of a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Study.
The study, entitled “Leveraging Large Truck Technology and Engineering to Realize Safety Gains”, researched four truck safety technologies that can greatly reduce injuries and fatalities in large truck crashes:
1) Lane Departure Warning Systems, which detect when the vehicle drifts out of its lane and warn the driver;
2) Video-based Onboard Safety Monitoring, which utilizes forward and backward facing in-vehicle video cameras and sensors;
3) Automatic Emergency Braking Systems, which detect when the truck is in danger of striking the vehicle in front of it and brake automatically if needed; and
4) Air Disc Brakes, which are superior to traditional drum brakes.
The Trucking Alliance asks affiliating carriers to support the deployment of these Advanced Safety Technologies (ASTs) in their newly purchased trucks, that are appropriate for improving their operations.
ASTs are not limited however to the four technologies in the AAA Foundation report. In fact, the Trucking Alliance endorses a wide variety of ASTs that are now deployable or under development for large trucks. These ASTs include, but are not limited to:
• Forward Collision Warning Systems
• Adaptive Cruise Controls
• Automatic Emergency Braking Systems*
• Lane Departure Warning Systems*
• “Blind Spot” Warning Systems
• Electronic Stability Control
• Roll Stability Control
• Speed Limiters
• Video-based Onboard Safety Monitoring systems*
• Kinematic-based Onboard Safety Monitoring Systems
• Vehicle-to-vehicle Communication
• Electronic Logging devices
• Air Disc Brakes (ADB)*
• Brake Stroke Monitoring Systems; and others.
* Researched by the ATA Foundation for Traffic Safety
It should be further noted that Trucking Alliance carriers may not have all these technologies installed on their approximately 71,000 trucks operating on the nation’s highways. Many of these technologies are still being tested under various pilot projects. Others are being added as new trucks are ordered.
Some ASTs, such as Roll Stability Control Systems, have been in operation by fleets for a decade. Other technologies, such as video and kinematic-based onboard safety monitoring systems and “Blind Spot” mirror replacement systems are newer technologies that carriers are testing in the field.
For example, one AST researched by the AAA Foundation were air disc brakes, a newer technology. As the AAA Foundation report noted, air disc brakes “may show promise in reducing crashes and their associated injuries and fatalities.” However, earlier versions of air disc brakes had a “number of design shortcomings,” according to the ATA Foundation report.
The AAA Foundation report also acknowledges, “it’s possible the efficacy rates used in this study may not represent the current functionality/effectiveness of the current generation of air disc brakes, specifically, relative to current generation drum brakes that meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2013 brake performance rule.”
So while there are some limitations in the study, the overall benefits of installing air disc brakes appear to show that a significant number of large truck crashes can be avoided if disc brakes become more commonplace throughout the industry.
For these reasons, the Trucking Alliance endorses ASTs and its carriers have agreed to pursue the testing and deployment of these ASTs, as they are more fully developed, tested, and the safety benefits are confirmed through these field tests.