While people may expect passenger vehicles to have common safety features such as automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning, large trucks are not as likely to have them. 

According to Consumer Reports, the lack of these features on semitrucks results in the loss of dozens of lives each year. 

IIHS study

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recently conducted a study that reviewed data from large truck crashes that occurred in 2017, 2018 and 2019. This included trucks weighing 33,000 pounds or more, as well as tractor-trailers. 

Rear-end accidents involving large trucks that struck other vehicles from behind killed at least 119 people in 2018 alone. Researchers estimate that AEB and FCW on those trucks could have prevented over 40% of the collisions. 

A review of trucks that have FCW technology found that they had 22% fewer collisions overall. Trucks equipped with AEB had 12% fewer collisions than trucks without AEB and FCW. 

Safety technology

According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, many fleets are already purchasing their new heavy-duty vehicles equipped with AEB. Even in collisions where the system was not able to stop the semitruck in time, it lessened the impact. One company found that, in the first three years of adopting AEB on all its fleet vehicles, there was a 68% reduction in the frequency of rear-end collisions, and accident severity dropped by 95%. 

Advanced driver assistance systems such as lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise, blind spot detection and intelligent headlights are also lowering the risk of tractor-trailer crashes. Regardless of the technology onboard the vehicle, though, the most important safety feature is a well-trained driver.