Trucks pose many threats to the passenger vehicles sharing the roads with them. When you think about the dangers posed by trucks, size, lack of visibility, and challenging conditions for truck drivers may all come to mind.
It’s important not to overlook the shape of semi trucks when it comes to safety challenges. A new rule regarding underride protection in big rigs is drawing criticism from safety experts.
What Is Underride Protection?
When a passenger vehicle runs into an 18-wheeler, the height of the truck can present a catastrophic problem. While the bulk of the car slides under the truck, the passenger compartment is demolished, sometimes torn almost completely off the top of the vehicle.
Underride protection is meant to stop that. By attaching steel bars to the back of trucks, cars can be prevented from sliding under the truck. These bars allow the safety systems of the passenger vehicle to operate properly, saving the lives of drivers and passengers alike.
Are the Rules a Step Behind?
The new rule put in place by the National Highway Safety Administration is not universally popular. The President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is raising concerns that the latest rule is the next in a long line of decisions that are too little, too late.
The final rule issued at the end of June mirrors rules that have existed in Canada for some time. In practice, that means almost all but the oldest trucks on the road are already in compliance. The new rule isn’t pushing safety forward. It does nothing to reduce the instances of underride crashes that are occurring right now.
Exceptions and Uncertainties
A big part of the problem is that the current rules don’t force truck companies to crash test their underride protection systems. A guard can be placed on a truck, complying with the rule, without any proof that it will actually work in a crash.
Another problem is the number of vehicles that don’t have to have any underride protection at all. The rule excludes many vehicles. Most controversially, it excludes single-unit trucks and “wheels back” trailers.
While the largest trucks towing trailers obviously pose a threat, it’s hard to see why trucks with attached backs don’t. They are still high enough for passenger cars to underride, so the threat isn’t reduced by the trucks being a single unit.
Get Legal Help After an Underride Accident
Any accident involving a large commercial vehicle has the potential to cause serious harm. Truck accidents involve many issues that are unique to these crashes. You need an experienced truck accident lawyer to protect you.