Automatic emergency braking systems would become mandatory safety equipment on all heavy commercial vehicles in West Virginia and around the country if a bill currently being considered by the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee is signed into law. Road safety groups, like the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition, say the passage of the Safe Roads Act would prevent deadly truck crashes caused by impaired, distracted or fatigued truck drivers. However, some organizations that lobby for the logistics industry oppose the legislation.
The bill was introduced in response to a worrying rise in fatal commercial truck accidents. According to the National Safety Council, deadly semi-tractor trailer crashes rose by 9% in 2017 and are up by an alarming 45% since 2009. One of the lawmakers who is championing the Safe Roads Act introduced similar legislation after road users were killed by tractor-trailers in 2011 and 2015. He says that the technology is proven, and it is now time for the government to act.
However, organizations like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are not convinced about the safety benefits of automatic emergency braking systems. They say it would be unfair to require truck owners to install expensive technology that is still in its infancy. Another challenge the bill faces is that it has been introduced at a time when both Congress and the White House are averse to new regulations.
Experienced personal injury attorneys representing commercial vehicle accident victims may check police reports to find out if truck drivers applied their brakes or took evasive action before crashing. When distraction or fatigue appear to have played a role, attorneys could seek to obtain hours of service logs and cell phone records in search of proof that could establish negligence in court. They could also have the tractor-trailer involved inspected for signs of lax maintenance.