Passenger vehicle crashes underneath a big rig trailer are usually fatal. Guards on the back of 18 wheelers meant to prevent these horrific accidents are inadequate, causing deaths in Texas and across America.
Passenger vehicle crashes underneath a big rig trailer are usually fatal.
Guards on the back of 18 wheelers meant to prevent these horrific accidents are inadequate, causing deaths in Texas and across America. New regulation meant to strengthen those guards has been stalled in the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s offices for two years. Meanwhile, the terrible toll mounts.
A grieving mother
Marianne Karth and her two vivacious teenaged daughters, Annaleah and Mary were traveling a Georgia highway in 2013 when their vehicle was rear ended, spun around and crashed backward into the rear of an 18 wheeler. As WUSA9 investigative reporter Eric Flack reports, the rear guard on the back of the trailer didn’t stop the car from ramming underneath. Both girls were killed in the back seat of the Karth’s Ford.
Marianne grieves in the interview, “and it’s like, I wish it would have been me. They had their whole life ahead of them.”
The rear guard on 18 wheelers has been a required safety feature for many years. In many cases they work to prevent underride accidents, but two forms of neglect have hampered safety.
Guards rusted and bent
Reporter Flack photographed rear guards on big rigs parked at a rest stop. Some were old, rusty and bent, needing replacement. When shown the pictures, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety executives David Zuby and Matthew Brumbelow weren’t surprised.
“But if you’ve got rust that goes through the thickness of these beams, that definitely would be a cause for concern,” said Zuby, IIHS Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer. IIHS crash tests show many of the guards on the road today don’t stop fatal underride crashes, even at well below highway speeds. “You can easily meet the requirement and still have very bad underride at that speed,” said Brumbelow, Senior Researcher at IIHS.
The IIHS petitioned NHTSA in 2015 to require, new improved guards. Two years later, it hasn’t moved past the proposal stage.
The American Trucking Association says that 93 percent of new trailers have proactively installed stronger, Canadian standard guards. However, crash tests show that more improvements are needed, especially in situations where the passenger vehicle hits offset, rather than straight on.
Crash test videos show the issues
This amazing video shows tests by the IIHS using crash dummies, comparing old versus improved guards and straight on collisions versus offset.
No excuse for dangerous neglect
NHTSA needs to get stronger guard regulations moving again, and trucking firms need to replace old, worn guards with newer, stronger ones.
The Callahan Law firm has the experience, skill and resources to successfully handle truck underride crashes. If you have been injured or have tragically lost a loved one in an 18-wheeler accident or other commercial truck crash, call for a free consultation with a board-certified personal injury attorney in Houston for a free case evaluation. We represent individuals and families on a contingency fee basis which means that we get paid only if our client makes a recovery whether through settlement or jury verdict.