About half of the deaths from semi-truck
accidents crashes involve an underride collision.
When a passenger vehicle is pushed under a semi truck, the top of the car is crushed and the passengers are injured and often killed by striking the underneath parts of a trailer.
Cars are designed to absorb the energy from the sides, not from the top.
Safety features –like airbags and seatbelts– are almost useless when the impact comes from the top down.
Underride guards, which are basically steel bars on the back of tractor-trailers, are supposed to prevent underride collisions by keeping the vehicle from sliding under the trailer.
Truck safety laws are out-of-date
1. Not all trucks have underride guards.
The U.S. government doesn’t require tractor-trailers to have front or side underride guards (for perspective, Europe has required underride guards on large trucks since 1994).
Furthermore, many heavy trucks are exempt from the rear guard rule.
2. The guards we use are massively flawed.
The standards for rear underride guards are extremely out-of-date. Canadian regulations require a guard that withstands about twice as much force as required by the U.S. rule.
IIHS tests found that even the strongest guard left almost half of the back of the truck open to underride.
Ignoring the problem of underride guards
IIHS has been working with trucking companies to test redesigned tractor-trailer guards.
In 2011, IIHS shared the results of their studies and asked NHTSA to require rear underride guards that are strong enough to remain in place during a crash.
Nothing was done.
Just recently, NHTSA agreed to look at the safety standards for underride guards after a public shaming by a family who petitioned the agency after a horrifying underride collision killed 2 girls.
If something could be done to make underride guards stronger, then why wasn’t it being done?
– Marianne Karth, crash survivor and truck safety advocate
Hopefully, NHTSA will finally address this serious truck safety issue.
The story of the Karth family’s campaign for a truck safety law: Family spurs government to action after tragic truck
Here’s why we say crash, not accident.