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Recent Safety Innovations in 18-Wheeler Design

Although the basic diesel engine is a 19th century technology, there are many ways that 18-wheelers are being brought up to the 21st century in terms of safety. However, not all trucks are being equally updated, because updating trucks can be expensive, and some motor carriers are not prepared to invest in the safety of other drivers on the road. If you were hurt or lost a loved one in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it may be of little comfort to you that this technology could have prevented your accident. But it may be some comfort that if you pursue a lawsuit, you may inspire motor carriers to install these technologies and save another family from having to suffer your tragedy.

As part of its mission to prevent truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) identifies technologies that may help prevent truck accidents, and has issued briefs on all the following technologies.

Brake Monitoring System

Most 18-wheelers rely on what are known as air brakes to stop. In these brakes, a pneumatic set-up forces the brake shoe and lining against the brake drum when the pedal is applied. The system works well to stop 18-wheelers, but it can be prone to many problems. A brake monitoring system is an onboard system that can instantly diagnose three major brake problems that can cause 18-wheeler accidents:

  • Brake over-stroke can cause a brake to give diminished or zero braking force
  • Non-releasing brakes in which the brake shoe does not retract, leading to friction and possibly fire inside the wheel
  • Inoperative brakes

These brake monitors can immediately detect faulty brakes even before they would be obvious to either a driver or maintenance personnel and prevent accidents before they happen. These cost as little as $1200 per truck.

Rollover and Jackknife Prevention Systems

Rollover accidents can be the most dangerous for truck drivers and passengers on other vehicles involved in an accident. Because of the danger of SUV rollover, many SUVs are now equipped with rollover prevention systems as a standard part of their safety package. Rollover prevention systems are now available for 18-wheelers as well, along with systems that can prevent jackknife accidents. These systems analyze data from the truck's wheels to determine when the speed of a truck performing a certain maneuver begins to exceed a safe speed for that maneuver. Before the truck begins to roll or jackknife, the system automatically applies brakes on individual tires in a pattern designed to reduce the vehicle's speed and improve its orientation. These systems cost just over $1000.

Collision Warning Systems

You know about an 18-wheeler's blind spots and you try to avoid being in them, but, unfortunately, it is often necessary to pass through the blind spots when maneuvering near or passing an 18-wheeler. You don't want to stay there, but what happens if a truck driver only checks his mirrors at the moment your car cannot be seen? Collision warning systems have been developed to warn truck drivers about the presence of vehicles they cannot see. Especially useful are back-up and sideswipe collision alarms that inform truck drivers about potential hazards that cannot be seen with mirrors. Front collision warning systems can tell a truck driver when he is likely to hit a vehicle in front of the 18-wheeler and sometimes are set up to automatically brake the truck to prevent an accident. These systems can cost $2000 to $2500, depending on the system.

If you have been hurt in an accident with an 18-wheeler that could have been prevented by one of these technologies, you can use a lawsuit as a way to get compensation for your injuries, penalizing trucking companies for not implementing life-saving technology, and hopefully prevent a future tragedy. To learn more and find out how Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C. can help you, please call or email us today to schedule a free consultation.

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