A new proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could help protect motorists from rear-end truck accidents, which occur when vehicles slam through the underside of trucks. The proposal would require stronger underride guards on semi-trucks, the barriers that hang underneath the backside of trucks.
Rear-end truck accidents are brutal, and it is common for the top halves of cars to be ripped off. It is also common for these types of accidents to leave survivors with catastrophic injuries.
Stronger underride guards would help prevent vehicles from sliding underneath tractor trailers. The new policy would mimic the requirements for semi-trucks in Canada, which can protect motorists from rear-end truck accidents at up to 35 mph.
How Stronger Underride Guards Can Protect Motorists
Rear-end accidents can occur without warning, due to poor weather conditions, limited visibility or unexpected traffic jams. Presently, underride guards only protect against impacts at 30 mph. New regulations would require underride guards that can withstand impacts at up to 35 miles per hour. A difference of 5 mph may not seem like much, but the NHTSA expects the new regulations will prevent one in three serious injuries. Fatalities are more difficult to prevent from these type of accidents, and the NHTSA expects only 1 death out of 400 annually will be prevented by the new regulations.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Research, a major auto safety organization, has openly criticized unsafe underride guards. This organization and several accident survivors have spent years petitioning for changes to underride guards.
Finding ways to prevent accidents through policies and laws, technologies or activism is essential. People should never have their lives changed by preventable accidents. If stronger underride guards can help keep motorists safe, this is a very desirable change in the trucking industry.