The Institute for Highway Safety recently concluded a study of tractor trailer underride accidents – where a car slams into the rear of a tractor trailer and slides underneath. The Institute stated that it had come up with a viable solution, but it appears that both the NHTSA and the US government are going to select a path that will only slightly improve public safety.
There are options available that would require trucking companies to strengthen the rear guards of trailers so that they could withstand speeds of 35 MPH, but the feds do not appear likely to require this.
Underride accidents are especially deadly to car drivers and their passengers because there really is no protection for the car occupants. The front of the car goes under the trailer, so there is nothing to protect the occupants. Trailers in the US do have a set of angle steel bars that come down under the trailer to provide a point of impact for cars, but they have little effect. The bars fold up under impact and the car slides under, usually killing the car’s occupants.
Canada has tougher standards for the safety structure under the rears of trailers, and the US is slowly moving towards using those standards, but not fast enough.
As truck accident attorneys serving both North Carolina and Virginia, we often represent grieving families who lost a loved one due to the negligence of a trucker or his company. It is a shame that there are options available to improve the safety of the rear of truck trailers, but the US government is being slow to adopt them. Trucking companies often will be reluctant to spend money to boost safety, such as when they fail to obey Section 393 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules, but the federal government should have no such hesitation.
We hope that the government will soon require tougher standards on trailers so cars will not so easily slide under the trailer in a collision.