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Welcome back to our third and final post on truck underride accidents this week.
As we stated previously, truck underride accidents have been a major problem on American roads for several decades, though it is a problem that has largely been ignored by regulators. However, one woman — with the help of social media — has finally convinced the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to review and consider revising truck underride guard regulations.
The woman was severely injured and tragically lost her two teenage daughters in a 2013 truck underride accident. Since recovering from her injuries, the woman has been fighting for stronger regulations in effort to prevent other families from going through what she has been through.
The woman started a social media campaign by posting and sharing photos, data and homemade videos clearly establishing that truck underride tragedies will continue to occur without change, as well as the devastation they cause to the families who lose loved ones.
Ultimately, she and others believe these tragedies could be largely prevented with a fix that costs $100 by simply moving the guard’s two vertical supports for the horizontal bar closer to the edge of the truck. However, trucking companies see this as an expensive change when there are hundreds or thousands of trucks involved.
A spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, the largest advocate for the trucking industry, says it should be up to measures like crash-avoidance technology and driver education to reduce instances of truck underride accidents instead of expecting trucking companies to take on the burden.
The woman fighting for change would likely say that neither crash-avoidance technology nor driver education could have prevented the accident that claimed the lives of her two daughters. The family’s car was struck from behind by one tractor trailer and then slid underneath another tractor-trailer, despite the underride guard.
In July, NHTSA granted the woman’s petition to conduct a formal review of the current regulations on underride guards. Hopefully, her hard work and passion is enough to inspire the wheels of government to finally start turning on this important safety issue so that many lives can be saved.
Source: Bloomberg, “Mom Says $100 Truck Tweak Could Have Saved Her Daughters,” Jeff Plungis and David Voreacos, Dec. 15, 2014