Imagine you are taking a road trip with your family. You haven’t been on the road too long, but everyone is settled in for what you hope will be a fun adventure. You start to notice traffic slowing ahead and tap your brakes to slow down. However, you see in your rearview mirror that the semi-truck behind you is not slowing down: it’s about to rear-end you.

Tragically, these situations are not uncommon. And when a commercial-sized truck rear-ends another vehicle, the outcome can be catastrophic to those in the other car. However, according to recent studies, it could be relatively easy to prevent these accidents from occurring.

Electronic devices can reduce crashes

Motor vehicles have become increasingly sophisticated over the years. Everything from the materials used to fuel efficiency has improved. And electronics have been particularly exciting in terms of their impact on consumer safety.

Two of these electronic developments are automatic braking and forward-collision warning systems. When equipped in a vehicle, these systems detect potential hazards and react faster and in ways that human drivers cannot.

Studies suggest that automatic braking reduce rear-end collisions by 41 percent; those that do occur can be far less severe because the braking cuts the speed of the truck. Collision warning systems reduced rear collisions by nearly 45 percent.

What does this mean for motorists?

Going back to that same scenario above, let’s consider what would happen if the truck had automatic emergency braking and collision warning systems installed. Even if the trucker was distracted or fell asleep at the wheel, the systems could detect the impending crash and apply the brakes. They would also alert the trucker. The rear collision could be avoided.

Unfortunately, these systems are not required on trucks in the U.S. Many companies voluntarily install them, but others choose not to because of factors like cost.

As such, trucking accidents will continue to happen. And when they do, the other parties involved are typically the ones who suffer the most significant injuries. Hopefully, studies like this one will motivate trucking companies and federal agencies to make changes that protect motorists.