Fatal Consequences – Truck Underride Guards
A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that underride guards on semi trailers are still not preventing vehicles from sliding under the trailers in the event of an accident. In analyzing the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, a federal database of about 1,000 actual crashes from 2001-2003, the Institute determined that of the 115 crashes where a passenger vehicle struck the rear of a semi trailer, nearly 80 percent involved underride, and nearly half of those vehicles suffered severe or catastrophic damage.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that about 423 people in passenger vehicles die each year when their vehicles strike the backs of large trucks. In addition, more than 5,000 passenger vehicle occupants are injured.
The IIHSs Concerns About Truck Underride Guards
“Cars’ front-end structures are designed to manage a tremendous amount of crash energy in a way that minimizes injuries for their occupants,” says Adrian Lund, Institute president. “Hitting the back of a large truck is a game changer. You might be riding in a vehicle that earns top marks in frontal crash tests, but if the truck’s underride guard fails—or isn’t there at all—your chances of walking away from even a relatively low-speed crash aren’t good.”
The Crash Tests
The IIHS conducted various crash tests using various passenger vehicles and semi trailers to gauge how serious the injuries could be at different speeds. The Institute's crash tests evaluated three semi-trailer rear guards that comply with current U.S. government regulations. Two of the trailers were also certified to meet Canadian requirements, which are more stringent than U.S. regulations when it comes to strength and energy absorption. In the tests, a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu was crashed into the rear of the parked trailers.
The tests showed that even the strongest underride guards leave passenger cars in serious danger if they don’t hit the center of the back of the semi trailer. However, a trailer that was tested that met Canadian standards did prevent the underride of the Malibu because of its strong attachments; this test directed the car to hit the center of the back of the semi trailer.
“Under current (U.S) certification standards, the trailer, underride guard, bolts, and welding don't have to be tested as a whole system,” Lund says. “That's a big part of the problem. Some manufacturers do test the guards on their trailers. We think all guards should be evaluated this way. At the very least, all rear guards should be as strong as the best one we tested.”
Contact an Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney
Thomas J. Henry have handled a multitude of 18-wheeler accidents over the past two decades and continue to handle many of the largest 18-wheeler accident cases throughout the United States. Whether the company is small or large, our success is not an accident; it is because we understand how trucking companies operate.
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