Legislation has been proposed that could improve truck safety standards and protect everyone on the road. The bill would require all trucks to be equipped with underride guards, thereby preventing the often fatal truck accidents that occur when a car slides under a tractor trailer. The bill, introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a Democrat, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican, among others, is supported across party lines. The bill would require the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to mandate that trucks be fitted not only with side underride guards, but also re-engineered rear underride guards for all new semi-trailers.
Underride guards are safety devices that stretch across the open undercarriage of a commercial trailer. These guards can, if properly manufactured and installed, prevent a car from sliding under the truck. Underride accidents often shear the top off of a passenger car, resulting in fatalities or serious injuries. At the moment, at least three cities require the use of these safety devices on certain trucks—Boston, New York, and Seattle. But there is no corresponding federal law.
Rear and Side Underride Guard Effectiveness
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) which began studying the effectiveness of rear guards a few years ago, these guards can prevent side impact underrides, and also can help by triggering air bag and belt restraint devices in passenger vehicles that strike the side of the truck. Many have criticized these guards as ineffective. Often the rear guards just fall off in the event of a wreck, and the passenger car still slides underneath the truck. However, the IIHS has indicated that the use of strong guards, specifically those manufactured by AngelWing and Airflow Deflector, Inc., are effective at reducing fatalities. The IIHS concluded in its study that strong side underride guards may reduce the risk of injury and fatality in these kinds of accidents by up to 75 percent.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been recommending the use of such underride guards for many years, and they are required in many other countries across the world. But due to their high cost, and in part industry lobbyists, to date there has been no legislation enacted in the United States requiring the use of these safety devices.
The newly proposed bill was partly in response to a campaign initiated by two mothers who lost their children in underride accidents. One of these inspiring women formed a foundation named for her two daughters who were tragically killed in a truck accident. Teaming up with another brave and dedicated mother who also lost a daughter, the two women are the force behind the lifesaving “Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017.” This Act was the template used by Senator Gillibrand in drafting the proposed underride legislation.
Columbia Truck Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Victims Injured in Underride Crashes
The dedicated Columbia truck accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. have been fighting for victims of truck accidents and their families since 1993. We strive to get answers for our clients, and hold responsible parties accountable. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 803-929-3600 or contact us online. With six office locations throughout South Carolina, we represent injured people and families in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.