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NHTSA to Consider New Truck Safety Technology

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced a plan to evaluate forward collision avoidance and mitigation (FCAM) technology. Depending on the result of that evaluation, the NHTSA may move to require FCAM devices on commercial trucks. The Truck Safety Coalition, Center for Auto Safety, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Road Safe America joined together to petition the NHTSA for such a rule last February. The Department of Transportation granted the petition this week.

The National Transportation Safety Board has already recommended that forward collision avoidance systems be made standard equipment for all new passenger and commercial vehicles. The NHTSA has conducted significant research on FCAM technology. That research has confirmed that the technology has the potential to reduce or mitigate rear-end crashes. Even without a mandate, some trucking companies have moved to incorporate FCAM technology into their fleets, according to an executive at Benedix Commercial Vehicle Systems. 

The executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition pointed out that trucks produce more than their fair share of fatal traffic accidents. The percentage of fatal accidents caused by trucks is even higher in work zone accidents. Many of these accidents are the result of trucks failing to slow down in time in the congestion caused by construction. FCAM technology has the potential to reduce these accidents by giving truck drivers a warning about traffic slowdowns and by automatically braking when the systems detect stopped vehicles or other objects on the road ahead.

If the NHTSA chooses to make FCAM equipment mandatory, it will establish safety standards governing the performance and requirements of the systems. The grant of the petition does not require the NHTSA to issue a final rule. It is a commitment to merely to study the technology and any available alternatives to decide whether it should be required in new vehicles.

Source: Fleet Owner, "NHTSA eyes automatic braking requirement for trucks," by Kevin Jones, 15 October 2015 

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