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Will safety systems in trucks make a difference?

Traveling on a California highway is not always the pleasant drive it may have been decades ago. In fact, many days you may find yourself clutching the wheel anxiously, hoping you arrive safely at your destination. This may be especially true if you share the road with tractor-trailers and other big rigs.

While you may find yourself becoming numb to news reports of catastrophic accidents, injuries and deaths involving tractor-trailers, the fact is that you may have no choice but to drive among them and hope the truckers are alert and fit to be behind the wheel. However, according to AAA, the danger that trucks bring to the highways may be an easy fix.

Proposed safety measures

In 2015, over 400,000 accidents across the country involved big rigs, and 4,000 people died in those crashes. You may be among the 116,000 people who suffered injuries, many of them life-altering, as a result of those accidents. These statistics from a recent AAA study are a 4 percent increase from the previous year, and there is no reason to think the numbers will go down in the future.

Nevertheless, a spokesperson for AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety believes that just a few additions to the safety systems most trucks carry could save many lives and reduce the number of accidents involving trucks. Those safety features include:

  • Video-based safety monitoring
  • Lane departure warnings
  • Automatic braking
  • Air disc brakes

If the trucking industry required these systems in all trucks, AAA estimates there would be 63,000 fewer crashes.

How do these systems work?

Air disc brakes reduce the distance it takes a truck to stop. Combined with automatic braking systems, which react to slow the truck if the driver fails to apply the brakes in time, AAA estimates the prevention of nearly 8,000 accident a year. This could also save almost 100 lives annually.

A lane departure system alerts the driver if his or her truck drifts into your lane. Truckers can avoid over 6,000 crashes yearly with such systems included in their rigs.

Video-based safety monitoring includes dash cams and mirror-mounted cams to record the actions of the driver as well as the surroundings during a highway incident. Such technology may prevent up to 63,000 crashes each year. That's up to 80 percent of accidents involving trucks.

What's in it for you?

AAA studies show that 25 percent of drivers like you will feel better about sharing the road with big trucks if you know the trucks are equipped with these devices to help prevent accidents. Do you feel comforted?

If you are already suffering from injuries resulting from an accident with a big rig, the addition of high-tech safety systems may be too little too late. You are justified if you want to seek compensation for your injuries, as well as send a message to the trucking industry about improving safety measures for their vehicles and operators. All the devices in the world may not make a difference until every truck driver, shipping company and mechanic takes your safety seriously.

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