If you have ever been driving behind a tractor trailer you may have noticed two vertical steel bars that extend from the fame of the truck and connect with a horizontal steel bar. This feature is known as an underride guard and has been required on the backs of most large trucks and trailers since the early 1950s in effort to prevent truck underride accidents.
Unfortunately, the underride guards are not always effective and thousands of Americans have been seriously injured or have lost their lives after striking the back of a semi-truck and sliding underneath. When they work effectively, underride guards can prevent cars from sliding under the truck while also igniting air bags, crumple zones, and seat belts.
But when they don’t work effectively, the results of the accidents can be catastrophic. In many accidents over the years, the underride guards have crushed and decapitated vehicle occupants while ripping the tops off of the vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 400 people have died as a result of these types of accidents and many others have been seriously injured. However, the truck accidents largely happen without bringing much attention to the truck underride problem.
In July, the NHTSA finally agreed to review and consider revising underride guard regulations after decades of pressure from safety advocates and insurance industry experts.
What persuaded the regulators was the work of a woman who lost her two teenage daughters in a truck underride accident in 2013 and has since made it her life’s work to push for stronger regulations in effort to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.
This week we will be discussing truck underride accidents and this woman’s efforts, which may just inspire regulations that are finally effective at preventing the tragic deaths of far too many daughters, sons, mothers, and fathers.
Source: Bloomberg, “Mom Says $100 Truck Tweak Could Have Saved Her Daughters,” Jeff Plungis and David Voreacos, Dec. 15, 2014