Trucking Companies, U.S. Government Fail to Protect Drivers From Rear-End Truck Wrecks

rear end truck wreck

Trucking Companies, U.S. Government Fail to Protect Drivers From Rear-End Truck Wrecks 

One spring day in 2016 outside of West Terre Haute, IN, trucker Jeff Kolkman became distracted inside the cabin of his Green Transportation semi while driving down the highway at 70 mph. By the time he looked up, it was too late. He rammed into the rear of a Toyota Camry at full speed.

Kolkman had a reputation as a safe driver, but a few seconds of distraction by a tablet computer tragically cost him his life, and those deadly moments also took the lives of the three passengers inside the Camry he struck.

The truck Kolkman was driving, a 2016 Volvo semi, could have been outfitted with an emergency braking system widely available in the United States. But it wasn’t. Such braking technology could save hundreds of lives in deadly wrecks throughout the country each year. But too often, it isn’t there to do so.

Every year, hundreds die and thousands more suffer severe injuries in collisions that occur when semi-trucks rear-end smaller vehicles, and the number of deadly truck wrecks in the U.S. has only increased in recent years.

Now concerned citizens, politicians, and activists are asking why trucking companies refuse to implement life-saving automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems on all commercial trucks.

Automatic Emergency Braking Systems Can Save Lives

Autonomous emergency braking technology has been readily available for several years in commercial trucks. This technology and other forward collision avoidance systems, which come standard on many newer passenger vehicles, provide a vehicle with the ability to automatically come to a quick emergency stop when the systems detect a hazard. In many cases, these systems can minimize injuries or avert a wreck entirely.

Unfortunately, even though AEB systems are relatively affordable and even save trucking companies money in the long run, many companies only worry about their short-term profits and refuse to implement new safety technologies like AEB systems.

According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, more than 300 people die annually from rear-end truck wrecks while another 15,000 victims suffer injuries each year. AEB systems could prevent many of these tragedies. Yet trucking companies and the U.S. government have both failed to make sure the thousands of trucks traveling our highways each day are as safe as possible.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: How Trucking Companies Cause Deadly Truck Accidents

Trucking Companies and Government Agencies Fail to Protect Drivers

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has for years listed mandatory AEB systems among its recommendations on its biennial list of most wanted transportation safety improvements, but so far the necessary organizations haven’t listened. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency with the ability to create regulations that would mandate AEB systems in commercial trucks, hasn’t taken action on the matter in years. Despite volumes of their own research confirming the value of emergency braking technologies, the NHTSA has ignored the NTSB’s recommendations on AEB systems, and in recent years the agency has even placed a halt on any new regulations for trucking companies.

Even in the absence of regulation, the affordability and safety benefits of AEB systems should make widespread implementation an easy decision for trucking companies. Instead, the trucking industry continues to drag its feet on AEB implementation and lobby against regulations that would make the systems mandatory.

The value of AEB systems in reducing deadly wrecks and saving lives is so well understood that many other countries are either in the process of implementing or have already implemented mandatory collision avoidance technology on commercial trucks within their jurisdiction.

South Korea, for example, is now requiring all new cars and trucks to include AEB systems by 2021. Likewise, the European Union long ago accepted the need for AEBs, mandating them on all semi trucks sold in the EU by 2015.

With AEBs promising significant results in the fight to make our roads safer, many hope that trucking companies and government agencies can work together to fix the current stalemate on implementation. But until that time, the reality of deadly rear-end truck wrecks remains, and that reality translates into tragedy for thousands of victims every year on U.S. roads and highways.

Contact Seattle Truck Law for Help after a Rear-End Truck Wreck in Washington

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a rear-end truck wreck in Washington state, it’s important to know where to turn for help. Sifting through all the information and evidence after a truck crash requires time, resources, and experience, and without help from a skilled truck accident attorney, the process can be overwhelming.

At Seattle Truck Law, our team of dedicated and focused truck accident lawyers understands how to investigate a truck wreck claim, uncover all the relevant evidence, and build your claim to give you the best chance at receiving fair compensation for your injuries. To schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney and get answers to your questions, fill out our convenient online contact form or call us at 866-580-HURT (4878).


Hendricks, M. (2018, September 13). Lethal inaction: As fatal truck crashes surge, U.S. government won’t make an easy fix. The Kansas City Star. Retrieved from

Manufacturers make progress on voluntary commitment to include automatic emergency braking on all new vehicles. (2017, December 21). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from

National Transportation Safety Board. (n.d.). NTSB 2017–2018 most wanted list of transportation safety improvements: Increase implementation of collision avoidance technologies [fact sheet]. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.