According to Commercial Carrier Journal, a trucking company in Oklahoma was experiencing too many problems with other vehicles rear-ending its trucks, leading to large expenses and immense danger. The trucking company took it upon itself to innovate a flashing-light safety mechanism that considerably reduced these life-threatening accidents.
A Note about Semi Trucks
Semis are massive machines that are many, many times larger than the vehicles we drive. As a result, these trucks require longer stopping distances and more time to slow down on the road. When you tailgate a semi, you put yourself and others on the road in grave danger of a serious rear-end accident occurring. The trucker ahead of you may need to slow down suddenly, and if you are driving too close to his or her backend, you may not have enough warning to slow your own vehicle in response safely.
The Trucking Company’s Approach
The Oklahoma trucking company in question runs a hazmat tanker fleet, making any ensuing accidents that much more dangerous. The trucking company experienced a concerning number of rear-end accidents with its tankers and determined that the best preventative approach was to increase the visibility of the trucks themselves. Towards this end, the company sought ways to grab the attention of motorists approaching from the rear quickly and landed on lights with all the following attributes:
These lights are in addition to the truck’s red steady-burning brake lights, and they are located in a strip across the upper center portion of each truck’s backend. The company’s position (which it says is backed up by studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is that these pulsating brake lights grab other motorists’ attention more quickly and alert them to impending risk.
The Results Are In
The Oklahoma company put the brake-activated lights on almost half of its fleet of 1,440 trailers and then proceeded to conduct its own study. The number of rear-end accidents for those trucks with the enhanced brake lights was almost 34 percent lower than the number for the trucks that did not have the lights installed.
Exception to the Rule
The Oklahoma company had to get a temporary exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to install its pulsating brake lights. Currently, FMCSA only allows rear blinking lights (other than turn signals) on select vehicles such as emergency vehicles, semis with oversized loads, and school buses. While the Oklahoma trucking company has since outfitted its entire fleet with the pulsating amber lights, other trucking companies will have to wait for FMCSA’s rules to evolve.