If there were any questions on whether commercial trucking companies largely favor their bottom lines over public safety, they may have been answered over the last few days.
When a semi-truck hits a car head-on, especially at highway speeds, the results can be catastrophic for the car’s occupants. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s report on car and truck crashes for 2019 (“Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019”), 70 percent of the 5,000 people killed in tractor-trailer crashes were occupants of other vehicles.
It’s little wonder why, as a fully loaded commercial rig can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. But rear-end or side collisions with tractor-trailers can also be catastrophic for passenger cars.
What is a Truck Underride Crash?
If an 18-wheeler stops unexpectedly – perhaps the truck driver was not paying attention to stopped traffic ahead – a following vehicle may have little time to react and hit the rear-end of the trailer. And when a commercial tractor-trailer pulls another dangerous move, such as turning without checking the mirrors and lacking the right-of-way, the trailer can hit an oncoming car.
In both instances, the car may run under the trailer, potentially sheering off the top of the car and killing all those inside. To prevent this from occurring, large trucks are federally required to have underride guards at the back end of their trailers.
Underride guards are metal bars that hang underneath the back end of a trailer. They are designed to stop smaller vehicles before they slide underneath the trailer. A car can slide under a commercial trailer even at relatively low-speed impacts.
This month legislation was re-introduced in the U.S. Senate to require commercial trucks to have underride guards on the sides of trailers as well as on the front of their rigs. It also requires rear underride guards to be strengthened.
Trucking Industry Fights Effort to Stop Underride Crashes
This is now the third try in the last four years to make the “Stop Underrides Act” law. The commercial trucking industry repeatedly opposed it. And this time probably will be no different.
Several leading safety groups endorse the measure, including:
· Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
· Institute for Safer Trucking
· Truck Safety Coalition
Truck lobbying groups like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) in 2019 publicly proclaimed its opposition, saying it would cost the trucking industry too much. Yet federal data reveal that on average more than 200 people died in truck underride crashes every year between 2008 and 2017.
This is just the latest example of the trucking industry fighting measures designed to prevent catastrophic truck crashes.
Slowing Down Speeding Truckers
Speeding truckers are a known major cause of big-rig crashes. Even the ATA this month called on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to finalize a long-proposed rule requiring speed limiters on large trucks – those weighing more than 13 tons.
But another trucking lobbying group, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, is arguing against it, with part of its argument being financial.
Until safety becomes a higher priority for trucking companies, then chances are the number of careless drivers and improperly maintained trucks – and the number of people killed in commercial truck crashes – are not likely to fall anytime soon.
If you were seriously injured or had a loved one die in a crash caused by an 18-wheeler, speak with a truck accident attorney about holding accountable all those responsible for your loss.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog March 25, 2021