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Safety & Compliance

Collision Avoidance May Have Lessened Truck Crash Damage

March 14, 2018, by Deborah Lockridge

The NTSB said the SUV was overloaded and had mechanical problems causing it to travel at only around 40 mph. Photo: NTSB
The NTSB said the SUV was overloaded and had mechanical problems causing it to travel at only around 40 mph. Photo: NTSB

A collision avoidance system might have prevented or lessened the severity of a 2016 crash between a tractor-trailer and an SUV that killed six people and injured five, according to a new report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

NTSB says its report on the crash illustrates the need to implement 15 safety recommendations associated with the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements for fatigue, occupant protection and collision avoidance. 

A seven-passenger sport utility vehicle, with a total of 11 occupants, was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer on I-70 near Goodland, Kansas, June 29, 2016, at about 2:15 a.m. Survivors of the crash said they believed the SUV was traveling near the posted minimum speed limit of 40 mph. Engine data on the tractor-trailer showed it was on cruise control traveling near the posted maximum speed limit of 75 mph at the time of impact.

The truck after the crash. The NTSB said the driver may have been fatigued, and that collision avoidance/collision mitigation technology could have prevented or reduced the severity of the crash. Photo: NTSB
The truck after the crash. The NTSB said the driver may have been fatigued, and that collision avoidance/collision mitigation technology could have prevented or reduced the severity of the crash. Photo: NTSB

The truck was operated by Precision Truck Lines Inc. and occupied by a 27-year-old male driver with three years of experience, on his second trip for the company. The truck driver took evasive action by applying the brakes and steering to the left, when he was about 100 feet away from the SUV. The investigation found that more than half the driver’s logbook entries were inconsistent with other documentation, and there is evidence that after working a daytime schedule the week before the crash, he inverted his sleep/wake schedule on this trip and was driving through the night and apparently had gotten no more than five hours of rest during the 21.5-hour-long period before the crash occurred.

Precision Truck Lines was issued an unsatisfactory safety rating after a compliance review following the crash, and eventually its operating authority was revoked.

The NTSB determined that the truck driver’s failure to take effective action to avoid the crash, due to his fatigue and his surprise at encountering the slow-moving SUV, led to the crash. The SUV driver’s decision to continue traveling at a reduced speed on the highway without the use of flashing hazard lights also contributed to the crash, and the overloading of the seven-passenger SUV and the lack of a collision avoidance system on the truck contributed to the severity of the crash.

“The causal and contributing factors to this tragic and completely preventable crash demonstrate why the issues of fatigue, occupant protection and collision avoidance are on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements,” said Rob Molloy, director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety. “In this crash, a collision avoidance system, especially one capable of automatically applying the brakes, might have prevented this accident or at least lessened the severity of the crash.”

The 2016 Volvo truck involved in this crash was prewired for the Bendix Wingman Fusion collision mitigation system, but the carrier had not opted to buy it.

For years, the NTSB has been advocating for increased implementation of collision avoidance technologies. Reducing fatigue-related crashes is also a major advocacy issue for the board. Both items are on the 2017–2018 NTSB Most Wanted List.

The highway accident brief is available online at and the public docket for the investigation is available at


  1. 1. Russ Mitchell [ March 15, 2018 @ 05:03AM ]

    I'm Confused that it appears the NTSB placed all the blame on the truck driver and none on the SUV owner / driver for overloading and not properly maintaining their vehicle? I think minimum speeds need to be updated on the Interstate system, 40MPH is not a safe speed these days.

  2. 2. Paul [ March 15, 2018 @ 07:27AM ]

    Obviously I am saddened by the loss of life, but as the government forces more and more regulations on the trucking industry, the more the good drivers are leaving. The biggest problem we have now days is the q uality of driver on the road...the majority of which calling them “steering wheel holders” is a compliment! I’ve been driving for 48 years, and their is very little courtesy or comradely among drivers anymore. I get cut off, flipped off, and try finding a place to park at night. Now we have the eld. The common complaint I hear among drivers is the same as sleep has never been as screwed up as it is now...I drive more tired now then I ever have. And the other 2 things I’ve noticed... is veryone is driving the clock. The second is, I’ve never seen so many trucks parked on off ramps as I do since the eld! As usual...leave to to government to screw things up!!

  3. 3. JC [ March 15, 2018 @ 08:38AM ]

    Our government is to serve the public and make society a safer and better place. Focusing on the issue and not getting distracted is imperative. The SUV driver's overloading did not cause the truck driver to slam into the SUV. The lack of maintenance did not cause the truck driver to slam into the SUV. Without the fatigued driver, the SUV would have gotten home. The SUV's speed was not safe but that does prevent the truck driver from maintaining a reasonable lookout. The truck driver is a professional, able to handle problems on road.

    Fatigue is under diagnosed as the cause of truck wrecks. The government must step in as drivers will otherwise not stop driving dangerously fatigued.

    Customers who make unreasonable demands must be told that "On demand delivery" is dangerous and intolerable.

    Stand up for what is right, not crawl for a dollar.

  4. 4. Patrick Norton [ March 15, 2018 @ 03:44PM ]

    The SUV best guess was hauling passengers commercially and also fatigued from 24/7 on call corporations who buy these type vehicles to avoid DOT regulations. Whistleblowers on these companies get blacklisted with OSHA collusions with corporations. Until DOT gets tired of cleaning up dead bodies these safety issues will continue.

  5. 5. Jack [ March 16, 2018 @ 02:55AM ]

    Give me ONE reason we are allowed to travel at 75 miles per hour, at 80,000lbs.

  6. 6. Jack [ March 16, 2018 @ 02:57AM ]

    Give me ONE reason why we can travel at 75 mIles per hour, at 80,000lbs.

  7. 7. Erich [ March 16, 2018 @ 03:20AM ]

    The minimum speed on the interstate should not be 40 mph and why wasn't the SUV using its hazard lights? The newer drivers out here aren't professionals because training lengths now are a joke. Avoidance collision systems are complete crap. I've used them and they are dangerous. Fatigue with newer and younger drivers is a problem and the FMCSA just made it worse with the ELDs and the accident statistics prove it but this incompetent government is more worried about lining people's with pockets with money than actual safety and their continued actions prove it.

  8. 8. Joe [ March 16, 2018 @ 03:47AM ]

    Because you can't handle travelling at 75, Jack, doesn't me nobody else can handle it.

  9. 9. Andrew H [ March 16, 2018 @ 04:34AM ]

    I have a 2018 freighter Cascadia, with radar assisted collision avoidance systems. It's called adaptive braking and cruise control. It'll match the speed of your truck to the vehicle in front of you when you're 3.2s behind it.

    This system has saved my bacon once though. I cruised into a snow squall at night in northern Michigan and as I was slowing down, my truck sensors saw the slow moving big rig ahead of me with covered tail lights and within less than 100 yards, safely managed to slow me from 50mph to the 10mph the truck was moving at. And it managed to do that with adaptive braking system that kept me from skidding at all on the snow.

    The technology has gotten much better over the past 5 years since they've debuted with sensors and stuff, including the automatic transmission. I was first speculate about when I got it as I've been a die hard stick shifter my whole career. It's also an automatic, with manual override with paddle shifters, so you get best of both worlds if you rather shift manually.

    Not saying everyone should switch though, nor should these things be mandated. But these things as options, are nice to have to the right driver.

    Keep on trucking, whether you run a solid gold 70's rig or a computer on wheels, get it there and get it there safely.

  10. 10. Darko [ March 16, 2018 @ 07:57AM ]

    Wanna prevent accidents and save lives? Why dont you educate 4wheelers how to drive instead of give them test of few questions and charge them $10 for the drivers license. Most of these regular drivers have no common sense. I've got my regular drivers license 21 year ago in SD. My test was 10 pictures where I had show right from wrong and I paid $10 after test drive. Thank God my Father was a professional driver with 38 yrs experience in trucking businesses.
    How insane You have to be to drive 40 mph in max speed 75? I see this every day on the road. Ppl coming on the interstate out of acceleration lane doing 25 mph into traffic that has speed of 70mph. That's accident waiting to happen! That's suicide!!! In some countries in Europe you have to go to driving school for six months and take a written test of 200 questions be4 you even sit behind wheel to learn how to drive. That kind of school system should be implemented in the states and then you'll be able to see the difference in accident rates. Don't get me wrong even truck drivers should go to school for six months be4 they sit behind the wheel of big rig and start OTR. There is no technology that can save you unless you act right in critical situations!

  11. 11. Mariin Hunt [ March 16, 2018 @ 02:58PM ]

    Having things, like braking, done automatically will only cause drivers to overdepend on the features and become distracted.

  12. 12. Michael Brown [ March 17, 2018 @ 04:01AM ]

    My company owned truck has a collision avoidance system installed on it. While the idea of the system is a good one, it does not take much for it to beep constantly, thus irritating the driver having to hear the constant beeping. People say then back off. On the open road, plenty of space to do that, but, in a town or city traffic situation, you cannot control the cars darting in front of you. The truck does not belong to me and the owners can put what they want on it, but it is the constant beeping that irritates the driver.

  13. 13. Jay [ March 17, 2018 @ 05:24AM ]

    I absolutely hate my braking system my company installed in there trucks. 1st, it beeps constantly in metropolitan areas especially where traffic is usually bumper to bumper. The only communication i have back home is thru phone and that thing cancels out anything my wife says, 2nd, i think they are more dangerous then anything. I live in Michigan so use to snow and ice, but a car/truck braking for you on ice because someone else cut u off they do it all day long. When it first happened i almost shit myself and still hate it. I have never been so worried about getting into an accident before that nonsense was installed.

  14. 14. Ray [ March 18, 2018 @ 08:16AM ]

    First this could have been prevented I Believe these accidents like this is the Government's fault let me explain! We are an industry where our government has decided when we work how many hours Please tell me jobs require a Person to work 70 hrs a week for little pay and be away from home! The government tells us when we can sleep when we have to be awake and how many hours we get to take off most jobs you get two days off truck drivers get 34 hours off and then we're back to work and when we're out on the road we are never really off duty even though we might sleep in the truck we're always on duty and we don't get paid for that and the NTSB says they know what's best to do add more regulations to an industry that's already over-regulated why don't all truck drivers just stopped driving and see how long it takes for them to change your attitude!!!

  15. 15. lnichols [ March 18, 2018 @ 09:10AM ]


  16. 16. John [ March 19, 2018 @ 09:45AM ]

    In 2017 I drove my first motorhome around America. It was my first time driving anything larger than a Ford Ranger. The 34-foot motorhome was a challenge but thanks to transport trucks it was a joy. The most awesome driver we encountered, the most helpful, and forgiving, were big rig drivers. We drove over 12,000 miles in 6 months and not once did a big rig driver try to cutme off or box me in. The truck drivers were great.


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