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IIHS Studies Reveal Front Crash Prevention Challenges with Trucks and Motorcycles

Automatic braking system in the car, helping to prevent a rear-end crash.

Recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ("IIHS") studies revealed important findings as to front crash prevention challenges, particularly those involving motorcycles and large trucks. These systems typically comprise forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking ("AEB"). They alert drivers of impending collisions and automatically engage brakes if the driver doesn't react promptly to the reduced speed or brake to prevent impact. IIHS research of over 160,000 crashes found that current systems lower rear-end car accidents with passenger vehicles at a greater rate than with medium or heavy trucks.

Potential front crash prevention challenges involving trucks and motorcycles:

Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president of research, explains why further development of the front crash prevention system is necessary. "These reductions are impressive for all vehicle types, but the safety benefits could be even larger if front crash prevention systems were as good at mitigating and preventing crashes with big trucks and motorcycles as they are with cars," said Cicchino.

The research showed that these systems could help prevent an extra 5,500 annual collisions with medium or heavy trucks and 500 with motorcycles. This result could significantly impact fatality rates, as medium/heavy trucks and motorcycles are involved in forty (43%) three percent of fatal rear-end crashes caused by passenger vehicles. That's despite being the struck vehicle in only 3% of all rear-end accidents.

However, Cicchino highlights the distinct dangers of rear-end collisions involving large trucks and motorcycles. "Along with being hard for other drivers to see, motorcycles don't have a steel frame surrounding and protecting the rider the way cars do. At the other end of the spectrum, large trucks are so massive that when a passenger vehicle hits one, it's more likely to be fatal to the people inside the passenger vehicle. The height of large trucks can also result in dangerous underride crashes," said Cicchino.

IIHS study findings on front crash prevention systems

Cicchino teamed up with IIHS Senior Research Scientist David Kidd to assess the effectiveness of current front crash prevention systems. They analyzed police-reported rear-end crash rates between 2016 to 2020 model-year passenger vehicles. These vehicles were equipped with and without AEB and forward collision warning. They focused on crashes where the struck vehicle was another passenger vehicle, a medium or heavy truck, or a motorcycle, using data from 18 states.

Their findings revealed a:

  • 53% reduction in rear-end crashes involving passenger vehicles
  • 38% with medium or heavy trucks
  • 41% with motorcycles due to front crash prevention

Further research to address front crash prevention challenges

As part of the IIHS study with Cicchino, Kidd collaborated with Transport Canada to examine how various systems respond to different vehicle types and surrogate targets. They tested five 2021-22 models from Acura, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo against 12 non-passenger and seven-passenger vehicle surrogates at speeds of 31, 37, and 44 mph. The study revealed that current front crash prevention systems are less effective in detecting large vehicles and motorcycles than standard passenger cars.

All five vehicles earned a superior rating in vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention evaluation. However, they were less reliable in alerting drivers about imminent collisions with larger vehicles or motorcycles. Kidd explained that the smaller size of motorcycles and the unique dimensions of large vehicles pose front crash prevention challenges for the detection capabilities of these systems.

The systems provided collision warnings for standard passenger car targets in approximately 90% of trials. Results were similar for most other targets. That includes car surrogates and vehicles such as the BMW X5 SUV, Ford F-250 pickup, and Nissan Altima sedan. However, the systems were less consistent in warning of potential collisions with school buses, fire trucks, tractor-trailers, and dry van trailers. They sounded alerts in less than eighty (80%) percent of the trials. They were even less effective with motorcycle targets and issued warnings in only about seventy (70%) percent of trials.

Get legal representation if you were hurt in a car accident

Front crash prevention systems may be beneficial for road safety. But when drivers fail to remain in control, a serious crash can occur if these systems malfunction. That's why the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick is committed to holding negligent drivers accountable when they fail to uphold their duty of care on the road.

Our law firm fights for the rights of car accident victims and secures the full compensation they deserve. We'll offer personalized attention regardless of your case size. That includes thoroughly investigating your car accident, determining your claim's true value, and negotiating compensation that covers all your damages.

Our consultations are free and allow you to ask questions and explore your potential legal options. To get started, contact us online or call us to set up your free consultation. With a law office in Rockville, Maryland, we proudly serve clients in the DMV.

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