New Study Casts Doubt on Efficacy of Underride Guards

When a passenger vehicle is involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, the results can be devastating. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009, the last year for which statistics are available, 70 percent of the roughly 3,000 people who died in accidents with tractor trailers were the occupants of cars or other passenger vehicles in 2009.

Underride accidents – accidents where a vehicle slides under a trailer – are particularly deadly because the upper part of the passenger vehicle is crushed or severed. The NHTSA estimates that 400 people lose their lives and over 5,000 are injured each year in underride accidents. Because of the substantial risk of injury, federal law requires tractor trailers to be outfitted with underride guards, metal structures that fit on the back and sides of a trailer to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath them.

Unfortunately, a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that underride guards that meet federal safety requirements can fail at relatively low speeds, a problem that can lead to devastating truck accidents.

Study Results

The IIHS conducted crash tests using underride guards that met U.S. standards and compared the results to similar tests of guards meeting stricter Canadian standards. The guards meeting federal requirements failed to prevent underride in a center-rear test at 35 miles per hour. In contrast, the guard meeting Canadian requirements prevented underride under the same conditions.

According to Adrian Lund, president of the IIHS, significant regulatory gaps allow trucks in the U.S. to operate with unsafe underride guards or, in fact, no guards at all. The IIHS has recommended that the current regulatory scheme be updated to require not only that all trucks have underride guards, but also stricter testing of underride guard designs.

Contact an Experienced Houston Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident with a large commercial truck, contact an experienced Houston personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can explain your options and work with you to get justice and compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. For more information, contact an attorney today.