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Safety groups urge NHTSA to propose AEB rule

Tractor-trailer accidents in Illinois and around the country claimed 4,102 lives in 2017, and more than 80 percent of those who died were passenger vehicle occupants, pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists. Road safety groups including the Truck Safety Coalition and Road Safe America say that many of the most dangerous commercial vehicle crashes could be prevented by automatic emergency braking and forward collision avoidance systems, and they have criticized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration harshly for not pursuing regulations that would make this potentially lifesaving technology mandatory equipment in all American trucks.

The National Transportation Safety Board supports such regulations and has advocated for them on at least 10 occasions since the 1990s. However, NHTSA has yet to publish a proposed rule. The agency says that it is currently evaluating the latest AEB systems and hopes to complete its research in the next 18 to 24 months. Advocacy groups are troubled by this delay and suggest that the agency is taking the issue of road safety less seriously than car manufacturers.

Organizations like the Center for Auto Safety can make this claim because many of the vehicles offered for sale in the United States are already equipped with AEB and collision avoidance systems. Automakers have vowed to make the technology standard on all vehicles sold in America within a few years. Car companies made this commitment even though current regulations do not require the technology.

Accident investigators check tractor-trailer safety systems carefully when injuries are severe, or lives have been lost, and their findings might be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to establish that trucking companies or truck drivers acted negligently. Other evidence of recklessness that could be revealed by accident reports include signs of poor maintenance or slipshod repairs, hours of service violations and indications that truck drivers may have been using their cellphones when they crashed.

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