A recent op-ed in North Carolina stated that the time has come for tractor-trailers in the state and across the country to be fitted with side underride guards. These safety devices are attached the sides of the trailer and can prevent other vehicles from sliding under the trailer in an accident.
The op-ed noted that 11% of all bike accidents and 7% of pedestrian accidents are caused by tractor trailers, yet big rigs are only 4% of the total vehicles on the road. In a five year period recently, 1740 Americans were killed when their car, bike or motorcycle hit a big truck and 1/3 of these accidents were on the side of the trailer.
The writer of the op-ed, an attorney in Charlotte, argued that many of these deaths and injuries could be prevented with side underride guards. Unfortunately, side underride guards are not required by US law at this time. However, there are some cities, such as Boston, New York and Seattle where all trucks that are owned or contracted by the city have to have the side guards.
The writer argues that most developed countries have required side guards on trailers for years, but the US has been slow to use them. He also urged all reads to contact elected officials at the state, local and federal levels and urge them to require side underride guards.
Rear underride guards have been required on the back of tractor trailers for 50 years, after actress Jane Mansfield when her car slid under the back of a trailer. Our personal injury attorneys would like to see the federal government adopt new rules that would require side guards on tractor trailers as well.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that 301 of the 1542 car occupants that died in crashes with big rigs in 2015 died when the car hit the side of the trailer. And, 292 died when their car hit the back of the trailer. The institute has found that 50% of fatal crashes with trucks and cars involve an underride collision. This means that air bags and various other crash protection devices are ineffective because the top of the car is torn off.
Our Virginia and North Carolina truck accident attorneys are confident that if side guards were required on tractor trailers in the US, there would be fewer serious injuries and deaths in truck crashes. Truck crashes lead to devastating injuries and large financial settlements. We would like to see few of them occur in Virginia and North Carolina.