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To Reduce Deadly Commercial Truck Crashes, Industry Eyes Collision Avoidance Technology

In a fairly recent article for The Florida Times-Union’s Jacksonville.com, a tragic I-95 highway accident involving a passenger vehicle and a semi-trailer was described. In the accident, Kris Ruiz and his one-year-old son were stuck in traffic. The father and son were mere minutes away from their exit. However, they would never reach their home.

As the two idled in traffic on the interstate and 18 wheeler was approaching from behind and was not slowing down. Unfortunately, the driver of the FreightLiner apparently did not notice the traffic was stopped ahead. The semi truck continued hurtling forward until it slammed into the Ruiz’s Honda Civic.

The resulting crash ignited an inferno that killed Ruiz, his son, and one other driver. In total, six vehicles were damaged in the accident. However, this far from the only high-profile collision on major highways to have occurred in recent years. Furthermore, is far from the only crash that could potentially have been averted through the use of collision avoidance technology.

The Tracy Morgan Crash on the New Jersey Turnpike

The truck crash that injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and killed James McNair, also known as Jimmy Mack, occurred under reasonably similar circumstances. Morgan and is traveling companions were stuck in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike in their Mercedes Sprinter limousine. The traffic was caused by construction on the road which had also reduced the speed limit to 45 miles per an hour.

The trucker who was involved in the accident had gone on duty at 11:22 AM on the day prior to the crash and had logged 9:37:00 of driving time when the crash occurred. While it appears that the driver had not exceeded federal hours of service limits, NHTSA investigators concluded that fatigue played a role in the events that led to the crash.

At roughly 12:20 AM on the day of the crash, the truck driver set out in his Peterbilt 18 wheeler from a Wal-Mart trucking facility located in Bristol, Pennsylvania. Approximately 30 minutes after departing, apparently due to fatigue, the truck driver failed to see the stopped traffic in front of him. Furthermore, his speed of travel that was more than 20 miles in excess of the posted speed limit suggests that fatigue or distractions may have also played a role. In any case, the Peterbilt truck slammed into the rear of the Mercedes limo sending the limo hurtling flowered and rolling over several times before coming to rest on its left side. The truck and limo collided several other vehicles creating secondary collisions.

truck accident lawyers - To Reduce Deadly Commercial Truck Crashes, Industry Eyes Collision Avoidance Technology

Aside from the fatal injuries suffered by Mr. McNair, Morgan and the other vehicle occupants suffered severe, life-altering injuries. Most notably Mr. Morgan suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) that forced him to step back from his acting and comedy careers for an extended period of time. Morgan has stated that he grapples with this condition and these injuries daily has only recently made limited appearances in these roles.

Advanced Collision Avoidance Technology Could Prevent Accidents But Is Not a Silver Bullet

A number of companies are developing technologies that could prevent rear end collisions, like those discussed above, and other collisions. For instance, Ohio-based Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and Meritor WABCO are both developing systems that alert drivers to oncoming objects and can automatically apply brakes to avoid collisions. The Wingman Advanced – Collision Mitigation Technology is one of Bendix’s versions of this technology is been on the market since 2009. The system provides a number of safety benefits including following distance alerts, stationary object alerts, active braking, collision mitigation, and an electronic stability system to mitigate rollovers and loss of control situations.

As collision mitigation systems like these become increasingly advanced and as they scale-up fall, a real question exists whether a company’s failure to employ such technology is negligence in itself?  According to the North American Transportation Association, the costs to install a collision mitigation system is roughly “$2,500 over the costs of anti-lock braking systems and stability control systems.” However, the organization notes that this price can decrease when the systems are purchased in volume. Thus, the monetary in human costs of even a single accident is significantly in excess of the costs of a system of this type.

Rely on the Experience of a Knowledgeable Truck Accident Attorney

While an attentive and while trained vehicle operator is still required, these systems appear to have the ability to save lives and prevent injuries. Furthermore, the truck driver him or herself can also benefit from an increased chance of avoiding that trauma and stress associated with a serious or fatal accident. Simultaneously, the trucking company’s investment into a technology can be paid back over time through less work time lost in legal costs arising from accidents. In many cases, it appears that the adoption of collision mitigation systems are a win-win proposition for all parties involved or affected by the risk of a highway accident. If you or someone you love was injured in a truck accident, contact our truck accident lawyers for a consultation.

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