Underride accidents may be among the most serious of truck collisions. An underride accident occurs when a vehicle slips underneath the body of a truck. These types of accidents should be prevented by the use of underride guards on both single-unit trucks and on tractor-trailers. However, according to Truck Safety.org, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been slow to update standards to improve safety for underride guards.
Truck accident lawyers in Columbus know front underride guards are standard requirements in Europe, although not yet in the United States. Effective guards in the front, sides and rear of trucks could save lives.
Underride Guards Could Prevent Deadly Truck Collisions
In 2011, rear impacts with large trucks were the cause of 19 percent of deadly two-vehicle collisions involving trucks and passenger vehicles. During the course of the same year, 63 percent of fatal truck collisions involved the front of the truck. In Europe, front underride guards have been a requirement on large trucks since 1994. If U.S. trucks had effective front guards in place, fewer fatal collisions would result.
Underride guards are steel bars that come down from the back of a truck or trailer in order to stop a passenger car from slipping underneath the truck when a crash happens.
A volunteer for the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) started a petition to improve underride guard standards in the United States after losing her two daughters in an underride crash in May 2013. She now has more than 11,000 supporters for her push for better safety standards. Her initiative helped spur the NHTSA's decision to begin evaluating new rules that could increase safety standards.
The goal of the TSC is to get a rule passed that will require all trailers to have underride guards to withstand the 30 percent overlap test. IIHS describes the 30 percent overlap as the most challenging test for underride guards because it is the "minimum overlap under which a passenger vehicle occupant's head is likely to strike a trailer if an underride guard fails."
In a crash tests conducted by IIHS, a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu hit a parked truck while going 35 miles per hour. When the car hit the center of the trailer, eight underride guards successfully prevented the car from going under the truck. However, in situations when the overlap of the car with the trailer was reduced to 30 percent, every single underride guard failed to prevent the car from going under.
Some trucking companies are voluntarily adopting improvements in underride safety as the NHTSA continues to work to develop a new standard. The NHTSA announced plans on July 14. The agency will be issuing two separate notices for underride guards including a notice of proposed rule making for single-unit trucks and another for trailers and semitrailers. Research is also being done into front and side guards, which will hopefully result in a rule that is able to save many lives.
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