Legislation for Life-Saving Underride Protection Slow to Pass

There are few traffic accidents that are more devastating and destructive than truck accidents. The average passenger vehicle does not stand much of a chance against an 80,000-pound tractor trailer.

While most truck accidents cause massive property damage and serious injuries, underride collisions are particularly deadly, because the car ends up underneath the truck, and the vehicle’s crush zones are not able to protect the occupants. In many cases, the airbags do not even deploy. As a result, these crashes are often fatal.

New legislation would require all trucks to be equipped with front, side, and rear underride guards, but the bill has been stalled on Capitol Hill for the past year.

Proposed New Law
Two grieving mothers who lost their daughters in two separate underride accidents decided to take action, and work to do what they could to ensure that no other parent had to lose a child in an underride collision. The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 would require every truck to have side and rear-underride protection.

In addition to ensuring that the underride guards are installed, the legislation would require underride guards to be included in the annual inspection process.

The Department of Transportation would also be required to review the underride standards every five years. If there were any advances in safety technology during that time, improvements and updates could be made to the guards.

Delay in Passing Legislation
One of the reasons why the bill has not been passed is that there appears to be a lack of awareness about underride collisions, and just how devastating they can be. The lack of urgency is extremely frustrating, both to the families of the victims and to safety advocates. Some truck companies have equipped their trucks with the underride guards, while others are slow to make the change, citing the high cost.

Unfortunately, every day that the bill is not passed, more motorists are at risk of being injured or killed in an underride collision. Even at low speeds, an underride collision can cause massive head and neck injuries, including decapitation.

According to the Truck Safety Coalition, in 2011 close to 20 percent of the fatal truck accidents involving a passenger vehicle were rear impact truck accidents. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that over 260 people were killed that same year in underride collisions after crashing into the rear of a truck. Despite rear guards being legislated, they clearly need to be improved upon.

Tougher standards, and the passing of the Stop Underrides Act, will help prevent these tragic, senseless accidents.

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Bryan J Chant, Esq.

Licensed since 2013

Member at firm LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A.

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