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Collision avoidance technology – our Roundtable truck attorneys’ call to action

Written by Steve Gursten Posted July 28th, 2016

What lawyers can do to save lives by helping “forward looking avoidance and mitigation” (FCAM) technology to become a requirement in all commercial trucks


As Jordan Jones wrote last week, our Truck Roundtable Co-Founder Joe Fried is incoming Chair of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Lawyer Litigation Group. In this role, Joe aims to push for “forward looking avoidance technology” to be adopted in all commercial trucks.

Joe turned heads around the country when he required this life-saving technology as part of his recent $80 million global truck accident settlement with co-counsel on behalf of five nurses who were tragically killed in a terrible truck accident in Savanah, GA.

For those of you unfamiliar with forward looking avoidance technology, it can be a game changer and can prevent hundreds of truck wrecks from occurring every year.

The system constantly scans the road ahead for obstacles. If an obstacle is there and the truck driver fails to apply her brakes, the safety system will automatically apply the brakes and slow the truck down – all the way to a stop, if needed. This is also referred to as forward looking avoidance and mitigation (FCAM) technology.

This technology is not a federal requirement today for large commercial trucks. Joe estimates that less than 250,000 trucks on the road have any sort of collision avoidance technology, and of those, only a fraction have the latest technology that can detect stopped vehicles and apply brakes to stop.

Instead, most trucks only have systems that “warn” the driver audibly and visually (on a small device with LED lights). Unfortunately, these warnings often make no difference at all, as our own attorneys have found out in legal discovery as many drivers turn the volume down because it annoys them.

So, what are some of the things attorneys litigating serious truck accident lawsuits can do in regards to forward looking avoidance technology?

Our own attorneys’ belief is that if an expert tries to assert that such technology is the current standard of care as of today, it won’t pass muster. This may change quickly, and part of why we write this truck safety blog is in the hope that the trucking industry quickly adopts very inexpensive safety technology such as this. It’s a great investment, and one that may lower insurance by far more than the minor cost of the technology itself. But it’s only really as of today that this technology has reached the point that it has; and only now that it is being considered added to fleets.

But we are attorneys who concentrate our entire legal practice on truck accident cases. Our experience is clear that there’s no single thing we’re aware of that would more drastically and rapidly improve the safety of everyone on the road today from being involved in a bad truck wreck than the industry quickly adopting this technology. It would immediately start saving lives and preventing truck accidents.

All truck attorneys can help make collision avoidance technology a reality

Here’s what we as attorneys can start doing now, to ensure forward looking avoidance technology indeed becomes a standard of care.

In your truck accident depositions, ask every 30(b)6 and Safety Director and Defense Standard of Care Expert, the following questions:

  • Are you familiar with forward looking avoidance and mitigation (FCAM) technology?
  • Do you know that the newest FCAM technology can detect even stopped cars ahead and apply brakes to all the way to stop?
    • The technology works day or night.
  • Do you know that statistics show that if fully implemented, FMCAM would reduce rear- end collisions by over 40% and would save hundreds of people from being injured and killed in truck wrecks every year?
  • Can you think of any disadvantage to the use of this technology?
  • Do you think that $2,500 per truck is too much to pay for the benefits of this technology?
  • Does your company employ any FCAM technology? Explain.
  • Has your company considered the newest FCAM technology?
  • Why has your company not adopted this technology on its vehicles?

And for those of you who still aren’t convinced, here are more important examples from real cases that demonstrate why collision avoidance technology is so desperately needed, provided by one of our members of the AAJ Truck Accident Litigation Group:

“I recently settled a case for $7 million involving a collision caused by a truck driver that failed to notice my client stopped and turning left onto the road leading to his home. My client’s car was propelled into the oncoming lane and it caught fire. Although he was pulled from the car quickly, he suffered burns on his head, neck and hands. I believe that this technology could have prevented the collision.

I am currently working on another similar case involving two fatalities and a serious traumatic brain injury. Again, I believe that the technology could have prevented the collision.”

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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