If you could invest in something that would save lives and save your company money, would you? Of course you would — and with the continuous evolution of new active safety technologies available on newer trucks, you can.

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Advances in technology, automation and safety features are improving safety measures within the trucking industry. These new tools are protecting professional drivers and the motoring public while also reducing trucking carriers' liability.

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The use of safety technology in the trucking industry is on the rise and Penske continues to invest in onboard video technology to improve driver coaching, reduce liability and exonerate drivers. Penske Logistics is among fleets that have installed both forward- and driver-facing cameras, and the company now has 3,000 cameras in use. What’s more, it has seen significant safety improvements since implementing the technology in 2018.

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The transportation industry and fleets have been faced with insurance premium increases, but underwriters are taking note of safety technology, such as collision mitigation systems and devices that measure and monitor driver performance.

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Fleets that prioritize safety through their management practices and use of advanced technologies can greatly improve their performance outcomes, according to a study from the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has required new commercial trucks to be equipped with electronic stability control systems since 2017. The agency said the mandate could prevent more than 1,700 crashes annually.

"The safety advantages of it, especially during inclement weather, are big. In rain and snow, the stability is very helpful as it will automatically apply the brakes if the vehicle starts to slip," said Chuck Pagesy, director of safety for Penske Truck Leasing.

In an effort to further increase safety, the National Transportation Research Board (NTRB) has recommended that the federal government mandate forward-collision-avoidance systems on all new motor vehicles, including large trucks.

Collision Avoidance Info-graphic

"This is all technology that should create a safer environment for professional drivers and the motoring public," Pagesy said.

Although the technology is currently optional, a number of fleet owners are already spec'ing vehicles with collision avoidance systems.

Collision mitigation systems rely on radar, lasers or cameras to detect potential crash situations, such as when the distance between the truck and a vehicle gets too close. The collision mitigation systems alert drivers and take action automatically if drivers don’t.

"Technologies such as collision warning and autonomous emergency braking in highway vehicles and positive train control in trains will result in fewer accidents, fewer injuries and fewer lives lost," said the National Transportation Safety Board. "These technologies are available today. They should be implemented today."

Like electronic stability control systems, collision avoidance systems can be useful in severe weather. “With snow and rain visibility is decreased, so the collision avoidance will also help you in inclement weather."

Under an agreement between automakers and safety regulators, light vehicles, but not heavy trucks, will have collision avoidance systems with automatic emergency braking as standard equipment by the 2022 model year.

June 2016 / Updated May 2018