The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

NHTSA Urged to Mandate Truck Crash Avoidance Technology

February 20, 2015, by David Cullen, Executive Editor - Also by this author

Photo: Jim Park
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."

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  1. 1. Charles Briscoe [ February 21, 2015 @ 04:38AM ]

    Doesn't walmart have this stuff on their trucks? How's it working?

  2. 2. Driver [ February 23, 2015 @ 03:36AM ]

    No thanks. I prefer to control my own truck. But I get it. You still hate truck drivers even though idiots like you are way more dangerous and disrespectful in your cars.

  3. 3. AJ Van Harn, II [ February 23, 2015 @ 04:57AM ]

    The technology works and works well. In my opinion this would be a better choice to promote highway safety than limiting the speed at which a truck can travel. Intervening technology is here for a reason and is here to stay. It's time we all got on board.

  4. 4. Tim [ February 23, 2015 @ 05:24AM ]

    Great idea unless the costs are passed onto the Carrier. Carriers are struggling now, added costs will sink small business even further. Of course a system that controls the truck is irresponsible and dangerous, a system that alerts the driver would be the only option that could help.

  5. 5. Dan [ February 23, 2015 @ 06:00AM ]

    This would be fine. My question: what does the system do when at freeway speed that car darts in front of the truck and hits the brakes to take the next off ramp because the driver can't stay behind the truck for the 10 or 15 seconds extra?

  6. 6. Jason [ February 23, 2015 @ 09:12AM ]

    The main point of the article is to reduce accidents. Why must we regulate everything in America to death? I see the real problem, people driving like NASCAR and after they pass a truck, they immediately slide over in front of them. This short distance is the cause of the accidents in many cases, and dash cams are starting to reflect this too. Why do we not teach people to drive properly, so we don't have to force the trucking industry to buy added equipment like this system? I am all for safety, but I am also for addressing the root cause of the issue. The root cause is distracted passenger vehicle driving, and irresponsible driving by passenger vehicles.

  7. 7. alvin [ February 24, 2015 @ 11:20AM ]

    I would hate to be driving on icy roads and a car cut in front then the truck brakes lock up and driver has no control any more

  8. 8. Rick [ February 25, 2015 @ 05:38AM ]

    I don't know anything about the system other than what I read. So just wondering...could there be times when a driver needs to push a vehicle out of the way for safety, stuck, fire, emergency, that this system would prevent? Can this system cause a crash when it perceives a crash that really would not happen such as a large cardboard item in the road? We probably could come up with other reasons or circumstances where the vehicle needs to stay at speed and not brake for something that the system wants to brake for. I guess I just don't like mandates and not being in control of the vehicle. I feel as though as a driver /operator of whatever. that you are responsible for the operation and if on a cell phone, CB , smoking, picking pimples, coughing, turning the radio up, eating, and so on, you are responsible the safe operation and we don't need mandates, on anything that causes or is perceived to cause accidents. To me it is simple we all know that no commercial vehicle cause most of the issue with commercial vehicles. So I say lets make more accountability for those who cause the accidents and lets keep our freedom. Every time there is a new regulation we lose a piece of freedom. with freedom comes responsibility. If we are not responsible we loose are freedom. Let make them responsible. Now we have the issue of handing out licenses to just about anyone......maybe that's what we should be looking at instead of this mandate.

  9. 9. Spec Writer [ February 26, 2015 @ 11:58AM ]

    Four highway safety lobbies. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; Truck Safety Coalition; Center for Auto Safety, and Road Safe America. Who pays these peoples salaries.
    Seems that all too often the safety sword is being swung by those looking to profit through mandates. Take a good look at the companies and people that stand to profit. These are not cheap systems and you can bet the cost will affect everyone in the trucking industry to one extent or another. These same groups skew the numbers and types of accidents to reflect what they want you to hear. We already have laws for following too close, HOS, etc. Over regulation and so-called safety mandates are forcing more and more good drivers out of the system and inflating the price we all pay for goods. Hope NHTSA wasn't swayed. If they were the same clowns will be back with a R-cam for you to buy in the future to keep the back of your trailer from being rear ended. The R-cam will accelerate for you to keep Joe Blow from rear ending you. LOL


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