Bill to Address Side Underride Truck Accidents
March 16, 2018
Anytime a passenger vehicle collides with a commercial truck, there is potential for serious and fatal injuries. Tractor trailers can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and stand as tall as 14 feet high. The empty space between the bed of a truck and the roadway below can be just enough for a passenger vehicle to slide under the truck in an accident. This type of collision can result in horrific injuries and fatalities.
A recent bill proposal initiated by two U.S. senators aims to reduce the number and severity of injuries and fatalities that occur in truck accidents involving cars sliding under the bed of tractor trailers. The Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 was inspired by the mothers of two girls who suffered fatal injuries after their car slid underneath the bed of a tractor trailer during a crash. If the bill passes, the U.S. Department of Transportation would require all new semi-trailers to have side and redesigned rear underride guards.
How Underride Guards Save Lives
Underride guards are designed to prevent a passenger vehicle from traveling underneath the bed of a semi-trailer in the event of a crash. Serious and fatal injuries often occur in these types of truck accidents because drivers and passengers are hit by the sharp metal of the trailer as the front and top of their vehicles collapse. Head, back, and chest injuries are severe, and decapitation is likely in this type of collision. An underride guard would prevent the vehicle from fitting under the trailer bed, which would then allow the passenger vehicle’s air bags and seatbelts to provide protection to its driver and passengers.
Underride guards were first introduced to provide protection for cyclists that collided with tractor trailers. In response to several safety studies that followed tragic accidents between cyclists and tractor trailers, Boston, New York, and Seattle passed laws requiring underride guards on large trucks. Moreover, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has added side underride guards to their study on the effectiveness of rear underride guards. The IIHS research has proven that underride guards prevent serious and fatal injuries during rear and side impact collisions in truck accidents by 75 percent.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is eager to see the proposed legislation become law. They have been pushing for mandatory underride guards for over 40 years. Countries around the world have had laws requiring mandatory underride guards on tractor trailers for decades. If the current bill passes, the United States would follow in the footsteps of Japan and almost all European countries in improving this area of truck safety.
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If you or someone you know has been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced team of Philadelphia truck accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are dedicated to helping our clients claim the maximum amount of compensation available under the law. Call us at 800-222-8792 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading offices serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.