Truck driver inattention is a leading cause of fatal trucking accidents. Inattentive truckers who are using their phones, for example, may have to unnecessarily slam on their brakes in response to conditions ahead. This can lead to a massive pile-up, and drivers and passengers may suffer greatly if they’re forced to slide under the trailer.
To minimize this danger in catastrophic trucking crashes, federal law requires that tractor-trailers have underride guards. An underride guard is a u-shaped structure hanging from the bottom of a trailer to protect smaller vehicles from sliding under during rear-ends crashes.
Today’s Standards for Truck Underride Guards
Today’s truck underride guards are supposed to hang 22 inches from the ground and protect passengers in the rear vehicle in a 30 mile-per-hour crash. But are today’s truck underride guards sufficient? The standards were last updated in 1998.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now wants to strengthen truck underride guards to a 35-mph threshold. The agency estimates that 400 people die each year in truck rear-end crashes, with 125 fatally injured from objects smashing through the windshield.
Some advocacy groups contend that these fatality estimates and the new strength guidelines are too low. They call for stronger underride guards that hang lower to offer adequate protection to victims of truck crashes.
Protection from Large Straight Truck Accidents
Some also want to limit deaths in crashes involving other commercial vehicles called straight trucks by requiring them to have underride guards as well. A straight truck, such as some moving company trucks, has a permanently connected trailer and can be large enough to pose significant dangers to other drivers when it is out of control.
In 2013 the NHTSA reported that 23 percent of straight trucks have underride guards.
The issue of truck underride regulations is well known to the trucking industry. They’ve generally opposed efforts to increase them, placing profits before public safety.
If you had a family member killed or if you were critically hurt in a crash with a truck, you may want to contact an attorney who represents truck accident victims to hold accountable all those responsible for your tragedy.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.