Avoidance v. Mitigation
Every truck has a collision avoidance system, the driver. Some of the newer models are coming equipped with an electronic collision mitigation system. Many drivers oppose the collision mitigation systems. What if we took the Avoidance v. Mitigation case to court? We would need a judge. I have chosen wise King Solomon. I have chosen NY District Attorney Jack McCoy to represent avoidance, and the legendary Daniel Webster to represent mitigation.
McCoy opens the case with the observation that it is better to avoid a collision than to mitigate one. We need training standards. That professional drivers have a remarkable safety record through the decades of truck transportation. That these mitigation systems are merely a nuisance. The best safety device is a professional truck driver.
Daniel Webster opens with the shocking statement. I agree. The best safety device is a professional driver. Then he sits down. King Solomon questions both parties. He asks McCoy why he does not like mitigation. McCoy responds. Those things brake when the driver least expects it. Solomon asks Webster if this was in fact true. Webster answers. YES. King Solomon realizes that Webster is no slouch. Webster took on the devil himself and won. Solomon asks why the mitigation system would brake when the driver did not expect it. Webster answers that it is too close to another object, usually one that is moving slower than the mitigation system. Solomon asks McCoy “Isn't it wise to not get too close to something that is moving slower than you?” YES! Solomon spots Team Run Smart pro and interested observer Jeff Clark (me) in the back row and beckons me to the witness stand.
McCoy asks. Mr. Clark do you have any experience with this mitigation thing. YES. Has it ever deployed unexpectedly? YES! Can you describe when this has happened. YES! Solomon tells me expand. Well, sir it usually happens when my truck is in cruise control. The most common occurrence is when another truck passes me and cuts in too close. I have learned that canceling the cruise control, and then resuming it as the other truck pulls away solves that issue. One time I was on a divided highway doing about 62. The truck in front of me was doing about 60 and a third truck was coming up at about 64 in the hammer lane. I remained in cruise while the fastest truck passed. As I moved out to pass the slowest truck WHAM! The system engaged and I was “dead in the water”.
Webster rises and asks. Mr Clark has the WHAM experience never happened again. NO! Were all of your “habits” safe? They could improve and they have. So, do you think that the system makes you a better driver. YES! I am capable of learning and I believe that all professional drivers can improve. Technology advances and we just put this stuff on trucks and never train drivers to use them. We need to train drivers to use new technology.
King Solomon has heard enough and reached a decision. We don't have to split the baby here. The best safety device is a well trained driver. Everyone agrees. Why are we arguing the point? We need to establish training standards. Mr. Clark is a genius. We need to make him the new Chief of the FMCSA. We should not force drivers to use every new piece of technology that comes down the road. We should not fight against it either. We have a common goal of reducing highway fatalities. Case closed. Everybody wins.