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Safety Features Could Reduce Crashes with Large TrucksFrom 2005 to 2009, the number of driving fatalities from accidents with large trucks precipitously dropped from 5,049 to 3,147 people, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Since then, the fatalities have increased to 3,986 people in 2016, and the number of truck-related accidents has also increased. Safety experts often blame distracted driving for increases in accident rates. Drivers of both trucks and smaller vehicles may be paying too much attention to electronic devices in their vehicles. Other safety advocates believe mandatory safety standards for all trucks in the U.S. could decrease the number of fatalities and serious injuries.

Safety Devices and Rules

Some trucking companies have voluntarily installed equipment on their vehicles that safety studies have concluded reduce the number and severity of crashes. Safety advocates, such as the Truck Safety Coalition, focus on three devices that they believe federal regulators should make mandatory for all trucks:

  1. Automatic Emergency Braking: An automatic braking system could prevent trucks from rear-ending vehicles. Truck drivers need to respond quickly when braking because the size of the vehicle makes it take longer to stop.
  2. Front and Side Underride Guards: Smaller vehicles can suffer severe damage if they slide underneath a truck during an accident. The U.S. already requires rear underride guards on trucks, but guards on the front and sides could protect drivers from more angles.
  3. Speed Limiters: A speed limiter prevents a truck from exceeding a certain speed, making it slightly less dangerous in the event of an accident. Advocates would like the device to cap trucks’ maximum speed to 60 miles per hour.

Safety advocates also oppose any legislation that would increase the maximum allowed size of large trucks. Bigger and longer trucks would take even more time stop and would have larger blind spots. A heavier truck crashing into a vehicle would cause a more severe impact and injuries.

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