A bill currently in the U.S. Congress, the Stop Underride Act of 2017, would require interstate trucks to have guards on the front of trucks and sides of trailers to prevent smaller vehicles from going under trucks during accidents an “underride”. If passed, the legislation would also require the strengthening of rear-guards, which have been required since 1953. Federal standards for rear guards have not been updated in the 1990s. The goal is to make serious truck crashes more survivable.
This effort involves the Texas A & M University Transportation Institute, which is undertaking research for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the issue. NHTSA will not make rule changes until the agency receives and reviews the report.
Goals of Proposed Federal Regulations
One of the goals of the proposed regulatory changes it to align U.S. trucks with their Canadian counterparts. The other major goal is to reduce fatalities and serious injuries that occur when smaller vehicles slide under big trucks during a crash.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 4,000 people nationally have died in underride crashes between 1994 and 2014.
These accidents, known as “underride crashes,” are entirely preventable, says a spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). New laws and regulation would significantly reduce the number of fatal truck accidents, according to proponents of the proposed changes.
Opponents & Supporters of Override Rules
Tightening standards related to underride crashes just makes sense. Although the IIHS supports the proposed legislation, other agencies and trade groups do not.
The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association believes that side underride guards are ineffective and may add weight to the trailers, increasing fuel costs and reducing the size of the loads that can be carried. Other organizations, such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Association are waiting for the results of the Texas A & M research before taking a stand.
<Interestingly, some trucking companies have installed Canadian-style side guards proactively to better protect the driving public.
Were You Injured or Did a Loved One Die in an Underride Crash? We May Be Able to Help.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash that sent the smaller vehicle under the higher truck, please contact our law firm to learn how we can help you.