Underride Guards Insufficient in Accidents: IIHS Performs New Testing
According to new data from crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), while most modern trucks have semitrailers that mostly do a decent job of keeping passenger vehicles from sliding underneath during a direct hit-type accident, most fail to prevent a disastrous underride when the hit is less direct.
Nearly all large trucks – and all with semitrailers – must be equipped with underride guards, which are steel bars that hang from the back of the trailer, to stop a passenger vehicle from going all the way under the trailer in a crash. Earlier, the IIHS found that strength standards for the underguards that were set up by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) were inadequate to prevent many types of accidents, and they recommended stricter standards, and to extend the standards to other large trucks, such as dump trucks.
The NHTSA hasn’t yet responded to the IIHS recommendations, but there is word that trailer manufacturers are already installing guards that exceed government standards. The reasons may not be out of the goodness of their hearts, however. It seems Canada has had tougher standards on underride guards since 2007, and their economy is booming. But even with the strength improvements, crash tests show that they are still only more effective in a direct crash, and fail to prevent underride in crashes in which vehicles hit the outside edges of the guard.
There is no doubt that the proliferation of underguards has resulted in fewer tragic accidents. The 260 occupants of passenger vehicles who died in large truck crashes when their vehicles ran under a truck in 2011 was way down from the 460 who did so in 2004. But those numbers can still improve.
One other problem with inadequate under guard protection is that it can often result in a failure of other “vehicle occupant protection” devices, such as seat belts and airbags, which don’t work when the front of a car ends up wedged under a trailer. Often, the top of the occupant compartment become crushed, and those safety devices can’t do their jobs, resulting in life-threatening injuries to the head and neck.
If you or a loved one have received a serious injury or been killed because of an accident involving a large truck, contact the Texas Trucking Accident Lawyers at Hill Law Firm today.