There are more tractor trailers and other large commercial vehicles populating our roads and highways than ever before. Driving around one of these colossal, powerful vehicles can be very intimidating. Getting into an accident with one can cause serious injury, and sometimes even be fatal.
One of the most dangerous kinds of trucking accidents occurs when a car slides underneath of a tractor-trailer. Even if the vehicles are both traveling at slow speeds, injuries may occur, and lives can be traumatized or lost. However, these kinds of accidents can be prevented when a deficiency in the safety design on these trucks is addressed. Specifically, there are no side guards. These guards act as bumpers, and can help prevent cars from sliding under trucks during collisions.
Rear Guards and Side Underride Guards on Trucks
In 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made rear guards on the backs of trailers a requirement. Around 15 years later, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that new trucks should also have side guards to reduce truck accidents and deaths, but action was not taken. For now, trucks have rear guards only, while side guards remain optional.
In December of 2017, Congress members proposed a bill to require guards on the sides and fronts of trucks. This bipartisan legislation mandates that all trailers, semitrailers, and trucks over 10,000 pounds have front, side and rear guards installed. Called the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, it is specifically designed to reduce deaths from cars sliding under large trucks during an accident. The bill also seeks to strengthen rear guards, because their standards have not been revised since 1998.
The Stop Underrides Act also dictates that all installed guards need to be inspected every five years by the Department of Transportation. Trucks that do not pass inspection will be put out of commission until repairs or changes are made.
Resistance to Change
The bill is still in its early stages. However, it is already facing some resistance from The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, who lobbies for the industry. Their position is that the side guards would be difficult to install, increase truck weights, weaken the trailers, and incur high costs to manufacture and install.
Additional areas of concerns for this lobbying organization include preserving structural integrity and design of the trucks; problems with hauling additional freight; and being unable to safely steer the larger trucks in narrower areas, like docks. They are looking for more research from the NHTSA that will further examine the possible long-term benefits and costs of these guards.
Similar side underride guards are already legally mandated across the European Union, Brazil and Japan.
The legislators strongly believe that underride crashes are preventable and that this bill will save lives, but the opposition they are facing could stall any progress. There is no guarantee that the bill will get out of committee, let alone pass. Meanwhile, maintaining a safe distance from commercial vehicles, specifically tractor trailers, is advice to live by.
Chester County Truck Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate for Victims Harmed in Underride Truck Accidents
If you or your loved ones were hurt in a truck accident, you need the services of the experienced Chester County truck accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Contact us by calling 215-569-8488 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. With offices across Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we serve clients from the surrounding areas.