NTSB touts benefits of collision avoidance systems

by Sonia Straface

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Collision avoidance systems should be made standard in all highway vehicles to save lives, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

In a recent webinar it hosted titled “Benefits and uses of collision avoidance systems” a number of industry experts sang the praises of the technology.

According to the NTSB, through its various studies, forward collision avoidance systems is a crucial component in helping save lives on the highway.

“We found in our 2015 study that collision avoidance systems could have prevented 1,700 fatal rear end collisions annually,” NTSB board member Earl Weener said in the webinar.

Between 2012-2014, NTSB found that close to half of all two-vehicle crashes were described as rear-end collisions. Of these crashes, it has been found that 87% are the result of a driver failed to pay attention to the traffic ahead.

In its 2015 study, NTSB analyzed nine commercial vehicle crashes it believes would have been prevented if collision systems avoidance systems were in place. After the study was released, passenger vehicle manufacturers promised to have automatic emergency braking standard on all new vehicles by 2022.

While NSTB said this is a step in the right direction, it still thinks more can be done. NTSB wants collision warning and automatic braking systems in all commercial vehicles as well as passenger vehicles.

NTSB advises commercial fleet owners to transition fleets to vehicles that already have these systems in place.

However, Todd E. Porter v.p. of safety at Sentinel Transportation, who has his fleet equipped with such technologies, warns that owners should prepare adequately for this new technology.

“Technology is good, technology works, however there are things that need to happen to make sure technology works properly,” he explained in the webinar. “So, first we need to understand technology and what it can and can’t do. For example, the difference between collision avoidance and collision warning. With collision avoidance, we usually mean adding an automatic emergency braking component to it. Understand what the difference is, because they’re going to work differently in your truck. You can’t just put the technology in and hope that it works.”

He advised fleet owners to have adequate training for drivers when installing such technologies.

“Technology interacts with human beings, and they need to know how it’s going to impact them, and how they need to work with the technology to get the most benefit out of it,” he said. “As opposed to fighting the technology. We learned the hard way that if you don’t train your employees, then you create stress in the fleet that doesn’t need to be there. Make sure you explain to the drivers both the benefits and limitations of the technology up front.”

In addition to saving lives, and making roadways safer, the other piece of good news about these technologies is that the cost is coming down on them, making them more affordable to every type of carrier.

“Many of us now can use these technologies now without a huge financial burden it was three to five years old,” he added.

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  • Why not start with something cheap and simple, like making it mandatory to have all vehicles to have all lights on, at all times, in all places.