Welcome back. This week we are discussing truck underride accidents on our blog.
As we stated in our last post, truck underride accidents have been going on for decades, but the issue seldom gains national attention.
In fact, the last time truck underride accidents were in the national spotlight was in 1967 when actress Jayne Mansfield and two other people were killed after their vehicle slid under a tractor trailer. Following Mansfield’s death, safety officials tried and failed to implement tougher regulations for underride guards. Soon the issue, once again, fell below the radar.
It wasn’t until 1996 that the standards were slightly strengthened when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lowered the maximum distance allowance from the underride guard to the ground to 22 inches in effort to be more effective at protecting passengers in smaller vehicles. However, the accidents continued to occur.
Years later, in 2011, the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted research that showed three different types of underride guards used by the industry failed to meet federal standards. The guards broke in many of the tests and often slammed through the windshields, where passengers would be sitting.
The IIHS petitioned the NHTSA for change based on the findings but he NHTSA didn’t respond. However, the NHTSA now readily admits that change is needed. Interestingly, a woman who has harnessed the power of social media might be the one who finally initiates the change.
Check back later this week for the rest of our discussion on truck underride accidents as well as one woman’s crusade to inspire change.
Source: Bloomberg, “Mom Says $100 Truck Tweak Could Have Saved Her Daughters,” Jeff Plungis and David Voreacos, Dec. 15, 2014