An underride accident occurs when a car slides underneath the body of a truck. These types of devastating truck collisions can leave victims severely disfigured or paralyzed. Brain injury, broken spines, amputation and death are common when underride accidents occur.
A truck accident lawyer knows that underride guards are intended to prevent these serious accidents from occurring. The guards should stop a vehicle from sliding underneath a truck when the car makes contact. Unfortunately, the standards in the United States for underride guards are not sufficient to ensure trucks have protections in place that are actually capable of preventing cars from sliding underneath. Truck safety advocates are urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to move forward on rules to change underride protection requirements so that trucks will have to do better. Some truck manufacturers are also voluntarily making changes to make their vehicles safer.
Improving Truck Underride Standards
Truck underride guards are simply steel bars that are on the back of a truck and that stop cars from going underneath upon impact with the truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a study of how well underride guards work on preventing the car from going underneath the truck with certain crashes.
For the test, a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu hit a parked truck while the car was going 35 miles per hour. The underride guards were tested in different scenarios. In one, the Chevy hit the center of the trailer. In another, half of the width of the car overlapped with the trailer and half did not. In a third scenario, only 30 percent of the car struck the truck and the other part of the vehicle did not.
When the car hit dead on, all eight of the tested underride guards passed. When 50 percent of the car overlapped with the truck, all but one of the trailer's passed the test. In the third scenario, however, all eight underride guards failed to protect the vehicle from going under. This is called the "30 percent overlap test" and it is the toughest standard because 30 percent is the "minimum overlap under which a passenger vehicle occupant's head is likely to strike a trailer if an underride guard fails."
One victim of an underride collision who suffered disfiguring injuries and who lost her two daughters in the crash has been pushing the NHTSA to adopt the 30 percent overlap test as a test for all underride guards to be used on tractor trailers. As the Truck Safety Coalition reports, she got more than 11,000 signatures on a petition to get the NHTSA to change the rules.
In July of 2014, the NHTSA announced that it would issue two separate notices for underride guards, one for single-unit trucks and another for trailers and semitrailers. The NHTSA has not moved forward, but some manufacturers have gone ahead and strengthened their underride protection anyway. Hopefully, the NHTSA will soon act and save lives and more trucking companies will make the choice to protect the public from injury with underride guards.
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