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Safety group pushes for crash-prevention tech on big rigs

Large commercial trucks travel throughout Illinois every day, and fatal crashes across the country involving big rigs increased 42 percent between 2009 and 2017. Road Safe America, co-founded by a man who lost a son in a truck accident, has joined other activists to petition senators and representatives to pass legislation that requires commercial trucks to use speed limiters and automatic emergency braking systems.

The co-founder cited a study that concluded that requiring speed limiters and setting top truck speeds at 65 mph could prevent approximately 100 fatalities a month. Truck manufacturers have placed speed limiters in commercial trucks since the 1990s because many countries require them, like the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and members of the European Union. Because the technology is already inside vehicles, about 70 percent of U.S. operators of the largest classes of trucks already use them as well. Speed limiters save transport companies money by reducing accidents and fuel and maintenance expenses.

A report from Road Safe America could not document how many trucks take advantage of automatic emergency braking technology. A federal agency, however, has calculated that requiring automatic emergency brakes could stop 166 deaths annually. Since 2012, the European Union has required both speed limiters and emergency automatic brakes and seen its truck accident fatalities decline by 20 percent.

Trucking companies and their drivers might be financial responsible for injuries to occupants of other vehicles if they violate trucking regulations, drive too fast, maintain trucks poorly or engage in other negligent acts. An attorney might provide meaningful support to a victim who needs to pursue a financial settlement from a trucking company or its insurer. After organizing evidence for a personal injury lawsuit, an attorney could negotiate with an insurance adjuster or present the case in court.

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