Will Platooning Reduce the Number of Fatal Truck Accidents?

Steven Schwartzapfel Jul 25, 2016
Semi on its side

Any accident attorney in New York can tell you about how many individuals are killed each year due to accidents with large commercial vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 104,000 people injured and 3,900 killed in just 2012 alone due to accidents with commercial vehicles. Larger trucks have a higher chance of being involved in fatal accidents than a single passenger vehicle crash. Also, semi-trailers are much heavier than passenger vehicles, which increases the chances for serious injury exponentially.

In order to thwart these high statistics and risks, researchers are working on a new technology known as platooning. Their hope is that it will ensure that vehicles travel safer on the highway – and hopefully, reduce the number of truck accidents seen each year.

What is Platooning?

Platooning is a new technology that involves two vehicles traveling in succession with linked communications and data systems. According to a recent ABC News report, the link will allow these vehicles to synchronize their acceleration and braking capacities so that they can increase safety and, ultimately, create a safer environment – and an added bonus: Fuel economy improves. Drivers will still be in complete control over their steering, and they can still break away from the platooning.

It is believed that platooning technology could help drivers avoid conditions that lead to fatal accidents – especially for truck drivers. By using sensors from these trucks, the company can also collect data that is sent in real-time to their analysis center. This data will also track things like highway conditions, weather, and other factors to determine how to safely platoon the semi-truck and keep it safe. The system will use all of the relevant data to then determine how fast the truck should be driving, and how much distance it should leave behind each vehicle.

The technology has not yet been officially released. Instead, it is in the early testing stages. The researchers behind the project are hoping that they can bring it to the market very soon – especially with the increases in semi-truck accidents and deaths each year.

Considering Human Reaction Times

The reaction time for a computer, radar, and radio is up for debate – especially in terms of whether or not it will promote or hinder safety. Human reaction time also plays a role in the number of accidents seen in the United States. There are several components that are involved in a human’s reaction, such as:

  • How long it takes for the driver to process the stimulus mentally;
  • How long it takes for a person to make a reactionary movement;
  • And the distance the vehicle travels before it will respond.

Experts do agree that the average reaction time for a driver paying full attention to the road is one to two seconds. In a passenger vehicle that is traveling 65 miles per hour, the braking distance would be approximately 300 feet. Semi-trucks travel 40 percent further with similar reaction times because the weight and size of the vehicle. Therefore, they need as much as 500 feet to stop.

Those working on the platooning systems have estimated that the vehicles will need a 1.5-second processing time. The technology, however, is still being fine-tuned, and there is no definite answer as to when it will be available for purchase.

Have You Been Injured in a Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, contact the accident advocates at Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. today. We understand the severity of injuries in these types of accidents, and we want to help represent your claim against the driver, owner of the truck, or even the manufacturer. Let us evaluate your case today for free by calling us at 1-877-737-4806, or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.

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