Automatic Emergency Braking

What is automatic emergency braking?

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) saves lives by preventing collisions that human drivers cannot predict. AEB works by using scanners, lasers, or cameras to detect the speed and distance of nearby vehicles. If the system senses a possible collision, the truck’s breaks are automatically applied.

Rear end collisions are listed as the top cause of truck crashes annually, accounting for approximately 33,000 or 23.1% of all truck wrecks.1 AEB technology is proving to have great success at preventing rear-end collisions. Many of the largest motor carriers order new trailers in their fleet with AEB. Older vehicles can also be retrofitted with AEB.

The video below gives an example of how AEB works. In the United Kingdom and the European Union, AEB system are required in all new two and three axle heavy trucks.

New Technology Prevents Top Three Crash Causes

The top three causes of truck crashes are rear end collisions, lane departures, and rollover accidents. 2 Manufacturers continue to introduce safety technology to prevent each of the top three causes of crashes, including automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and electronic stability control systems.

Early collision warning systems have been in use since the late 1990s. Forward collision warning technology (without automatic braking) emits an urgent audible alert with a driver display to warn the driver of an impending collision or that the driver’s following distance is unsafe.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), along with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. completed a year-long test of trucks equipped with collision avoidance systems. The test was a success and involved 150 trucks, more than 100 drivers from 7 unidentified motor carriers traveling and producing 3 million miles of data, with no rear end crashes. 3 NHTSA reported that fleet safety managers should recommend crash avoidance system technology with new fleet acquisitions.

In July, 2019 the Safe Roads Act  was introduced into both the House and the Senate. This bill would:

  1. Require new commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with an automatic emergency braking system
  2. Establish performance requirements for such braking systems
  3. Require such systems to be used while the commercial vehicles are in operation. 

Leizerman & Young support the Safe Roads Act because of the injuries and deaths prevented by mandating AEB systems.

1 James Hedlund and Daniel Blower, The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) Analysis Series: Using
LTCCS Data for Statistical Analyses of Crash Risk, January 2006, Office of Information Management.

2 Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Docket No. NHTSA-2015-
0188, https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NHTSA-2016-0087

3 The United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Field
Study of Heavy-Vehicle Crash Avoidance Systems” DOT HS 812 280, June 2016; The American Trucking
Associations, Transport Topics, Collision Avoidance Systems Succeed in NHTSA Field Test,” page 1, June 20, 2016.

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