Safety Systems Shown to Reduce Rollovers, Other Accidents, FMCSA Study Declare

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A new study has found trucks using lane-departure warning and roll-stability control systems are less likely to be involved in an accident than those not using the system.

Conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the study found trucks without lane-departure warning systems tested had a LDW-related crash rate per million vehicle miles traveled 1.9 times higher than trucks with LDW.

“Overall, LDW devices seem to have the potential for reducing lane departure/run-off-road collisions,” the study said. “These devices seem to reduce the number and severity of lane excursions, improve overall lane keeping and encourage the use of turn signals when changing lanes.”

Likewise, RSC-effectiveness analysis showed that trucks without roll stability had a RSC-related crash rate nearly 1.5 times higher than trucks with RSC.

“Drivers indicated the RSC system increased their situational awareness, making them more cognizant of their driving behavior. The system also aids the driver’s judgment when calculating speed into turns,” the study said.

The study concluded that deployment of lane-departure systems on trucks produced a 15-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio, and RSC registered a 13-to-1 benefit.

The study did not include an assessment of electronic stability control, the more technologically sophisticated roll-avoidance system that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year proposed be a mandated system for heavy-truck tractors. NHTSA has not issued a final rule on ESC.

Researchers also said the study could not generate a sufficient amount of data to detect differences between trucks with forward-collision warning systems and those without.

However, the study noted that previous research has assessed the “overall efficacy” of forward-collision warning devices, which have shown a potential for reducing rear-end collisions by 3% to 21%.

“FCW devices also seem to aid drivers in maintaining increased headways from the vehicle ahead,” the study said. “In addition, drivers generally react favorably to FCW devices; however, high false alarm rates are likely to reduce driver acceptance.”

The study’s conclusions were based on an analysis of 88,000 federal crash records of reportable accidents and minor incidents from 2007 through 2009 acquired from 14 carriers.

Representatives of safety system manufacturers said they generally were pleased with the results and noted the systems used in the research have since been improved.

“The study more or less reinforces what the suppliers have been saying, that these are truly good crash-avoidance devices,” said Alan Korn, director of advanced brake system integration at Meritor Wabco.

Likewise, Fred Andersky, director of government and industry affairs for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, said the study would help boost safety system awareness.

“I think it reinforces what Bendix — and even our competition — have been talking about in terms of the value and the effectiveness of these systems to be able to help fleets, drivers and owner-operators reduce crash incidents,” Andersky said.

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