According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2006, 135 people died in accidents caused when their vehicle struck the rear of a tractor-trailer. There were approximately 23,500 such accidents in the country, and these left more than 1,600 people injured. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking at technologies that would help prevent rear ender accidents involving 18-wheelers.

One of the most basic concepts the agency engineers are looking at, is the installation of warning lights on the back of a truck. The lights will be activated by rear facing radar that will detect when a vehicle is getting too close to the back of the truck. The FMCSA is looking specifically at installing two sets of six LED lights on the bumper. Engineers have tested this configuration by using a test driver traveling behind a truck, and engaged in distracting activities, like fiddling with radio stations. The researchers looked at how quickly the motorist’s attention was drawn to the bright lights on the truck. The agency is also looking at other configurations of lights, including lights under the rear under ride guard, as well as additional lighting on the sides of the trailer.

The FMCSA is also looking at vehicle to vehicle communication, or so-called V2V systems that combine WiFi with GPS devices that are already available in vehicles. These systems will provide information about other vehicles that are set up with V2V systems around them. Truck drivers will receive warnings about any potentially hazardous road conditions, or advance warning of any potentially serious collision situations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s IntelliDrive initiative is working towards developing these sophisticated low-cost technologies. The FMCSA is also looking at how such technologies could prevent truck accidents.

Enhanced auto safety technology has helped reduce highway crash fatalities dramatically over the past few years, and as Houston truck accident lawyers, we believe that technology is also the way forward in truck accident prevention.

Update 9/18: To learn more about FMCSA technology and its impact, view: