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truck1More than two years ago, a number of agencies petitioned the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate that all new trucks sold in the U.S. were to be equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB). In May 2015, soon after the petition was presented, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a report entitled, “The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes”in which the independent investigative agency urged the adoption of collision avoidance systems for all new commercial and passenger vehicles.

The NHTSA told the petitioning groups, which included the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and Road Safe America, that it would consider such a federal mandate; yet, to date, there has not been much headway made on this topic in regards to commercial semi-trucks.

On the passenger car front, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the NHTSA have partnered with car manufacturers in making a pact to have AEB standard on virtually all light-duty cars and trucks by September 1, 2022. The Department of Transportation claims they want to ensure such technology is safe for tractor-trailer use before including commercial trucks, but many point to the typical bureaucratic process of enacting U.S. regulations as a major contributor as well.

“It can be a long process,” commented Russ Rader, spokesman for the IIHS. “(Automatic braking) is clearly effective in reducing crashes for passenger vehicles,” he added. “We expect that it will also be effective for crashes involving large trucks.” Industry experts also point to the unique handling requirements of larger vehicles as reason for the ongoing reviewespecially in regards to the increased size, added weight and precarious stability of big rigs and how this might be affected with AEB systems.

Yet, the European Union has required AEB in one form or another, along with forward-collision warning, on all new truck over 3,500 kg (7716 lbs) since 2012. In fact, it was the AEB system installed on the semi-truck used in the Berlin Christmas market attack on December 19, 2016 that kept the vehicle from driving further into the crowded area and injuring even more people. Such an event supports the notion that a similar regulation in the U.S. could truly save livesbut it might be a slow road to travel as further testing and review could be required.


Michael Leizerman is a truck accident attorney specializing in catastrophic multi-axle collisions. He understands all facets of truck accident litigation; including federal regulations, drug and alcohol testing and hours of service requirements. He has authored a treatise entitled Litigating Truck Accident Cases and often educates other attorneys on trucking laws and regulations. You can learn more about Leizerman & Associates by visiting their website,


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