NHTSA Urged to Mandate Truck Crash Avoidance Technology
Photo: Jim Park
Four highway-safety lobbies have petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to initiate a rulemaking that would require forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking (F-CAM) systems on all new trucks and buses rated at 10,000 pounds or more GVW. The lobbies argue that specific technology exists that would markedly reduce truck-related crashes if it were mandated on commercial vehicles.
“F-CAM technology uses radar and sensors to first alert the driver and then to apply the brakes when a crash is imminent,” explained a statement jointly released by the petitioning groups: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; Truck Safety Coalition; Center for Auto Safety, and Road Safe America.
The safety advocates said that such F-CAM systems “employ a Forward Collision Warning (FCW) to alert a driver when his/her vehicle gets too close to another vehicle that is stopped or traveling more slowly in front of his/her vehicle, giving the driver a chance to brake. When the system determines that a crash is about to occur, a Collision Mitigation Braking (CMB) system automatically applies the brakes to avoid the crash or reduce its severity.”
The petitioners contend that while “NHTSA estimates that current generation F-CAM systems can prevent over 2,500 crashes each year and future generation systems could prevent over 6,300 crashes annually,” the agency has yet to determine if it will mandate the technology on commercial vehicles. They also stressed that F-CAM systems are designed “precisely” to mitigate fatal crashes in which the front end of the truck is the initial point of impact.
“The safety technology is available to reduce the carnage on America’s roads resulting from rear-end crashes by large trucks,” said Henry Jasny, senior vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “The NHTSA can take action to improve safety and reduce preventable losses by requiring F-CAM technology on all large commercial motor vehicles.”
John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition, remarked that whenever traffic is significantly slowed or at a complete stop in general as well as by speed limits in work-zone areas, “cars are particularly vulnerable to being rear-ended by large trucks. Trucks are overrepresented in fatal highway crashes, and they are even more so in fatal work zone crashes. This is why it is imperative that F-CAM technology is required safety equipment in large trucks.”
In making their case for a mandate, the safety advocates also pointed out that “while nearly every truck manufacturer currently offers some type of F-CAM system on new vehicles, there is no national standard for F-CAM system performance and not all buyers purchase this safety option. Thus, few trucks are actually equipped with the technology despite its availability. Only 3% of the more than 3 million standard tractor-trailers (Class 8) on the road today are equipped with some form of this technology.”
Regarding the petition’s merits, Sean McNally, Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Trucking Associations told HDT, that the trucking lobby “supports proven safety technologies that prevent crashes and, therefore, save lives. ATA plans to carefully review the data cited in this petition to make an informed decision on the efficacy of the recommended approach.
“More importantly,” he continued, “any organization truly interested in highway safety should be urging NHTSA to first take action on ATA's 2006 petition -now almost nine years old - seeking a new rule requiring large trucks to be electronically speed-governed/limited at no more than 65 mph. [That’s] an approach ATA knows would reduce the frequency and severity of crashes."