So far this year, there have been reports of at least 25 truck underride accidents in 20 different states. These gruesome collisions have claimed the lives of 20 people and seriously injured scores more. Every year, hundreds of people are killed in underride crashes, when a passenger vehicle slides under the back or side of a commercial tractor trailer, typically sheering off its top. All too often, these crashes result in debilitating harm and horrific death for vehicle occupants.
One of the earliest truck underride accidents involved the famous Hollywood star, Jayne Mansfield, who was killed in a crash just outside of New Orleans. Nearly six decades later, these deadly accidents are still happening on our nation’s roadways.
Regulators say side underride guards will save lives
According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 1,470 people in passenger cars died in accidents involving 18-wheelers in 2016. Of those fatalities, nearly 300 passengers were in a vehicle that struck the side of a semi-truck, and 238 were killed when their vehicle hit the rear.
Russ Radar, a spokesperson for IIHS, states that truck underride crashes are entirely preventable, adding that side underride guards will save lives. By law, all tractor trailers and 18-wheelers are required to install rear guards, which have been shown to increase likelihood of survival in the event of an underride.
These large metal barriers are designed to keep smaller passenger vehicles from going underneath the truck’s carriage during a crash. However, IIHS crash data has shown that underride guards manufactured under the current U.S. safety standards are not strong enough and need to be upgraded.
New bill to stop underride accidents
Last year, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bipartisan bill known as The Stop Underrides Act of 2017. If passed, the bill would fortify rear underride guards and mandate that all tractor trailers be fitted with metal barriers on their sides and front. The legislation would also mandate periodic inspections of truck underride guards. Semis that fail the inspection would be taken out of service until the underride guard defects were addressed.
“There is a massive safety design flaw that makes collisions between cars and trucks much deadlier than they need to be,” Senator Gillibrand told NBC News. “This bipartisan legislation would save lives.”
Many critics say this important legislation is long overdue, and that the government has waited far too long to adopt tougher safety standards regarding underride laws.
Truck accident lawyer serving Louisiana
The Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has a long track record of success litigating 18-wheeler accident claims, helping clients recover money damages for medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma and the wrongful death of a loved one.
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Additional Resources on Truck Underride Crashes:
- Trucks.com, Lawmakers Call for Guards on Trucks to Prevent Deadly Underride Crashes https://www.trucks.com/2018/01/05/lawmakers-want-truck-guards-prevent-underride-crashes/
- StopUnderrides.org, UNDERSTANDING TRUCK UNDERRIDE https://stopunderrides.org/understanding-truck-underride/
- NBC News, Senators say bill would save motorists from being killed in truck crashes https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/senators-say-new-law-will-save-car-passengers-killed-truck-n828746