Two mothers of underride truck accident victims, who died when their vehicles lodged underneath the truck after a collision, are calling for safety measures to help prevent such accidents.
The threats posed by unsafe underrides do not get a lot of attention, but these cause some of the most devastating accidents involving large commercial trucks. Underride guards refer to the barriers, usually made of metal, that are affixed to the backs of a commercial 18-wheeler or large truck. These guards are in place to prevent smaller vehicles and passenger cars from sliding under the truck in the event of a collision.
In any accident involving a large commercial truck, there is a danger that the smaller car involved will skate or slip under the truck. The resulting accidents and injuries can be horrific. Underride car accidents almost always result in severe head injuries. Some of the worst accidents result in decapitations.
The federal regulations governing underride safety are extremely old and outdated. The current regulations were designed more than two decades ago. As a result, many underride guards that are attached to 18-wheelers and commercial trucks are weak and unstable. They can crumble on impact, or disintegrate in even a moderate-impact accident, providing absolutely no protection to the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
Maryanne Karth and Lois Dorso are urging federal regulators and US legislators to enact stronger rules to protect occupants of smaller vehicles who are involved in accidents with large trucks. They’re pointing to the results of new crash safety tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and released this year. According to the results of those tests, underride guards that are affixed on the side of a truck, can provide significant protection to the occupants of smaller vehicles, and provide benefits very similar to the benefits afforded by rear-mounted underride regards. Currently, federal regulations do not require or mandate side underride guards.
The mothers’ efforts to lobby safety advocates on behalf of their dead children, however have a very strong opponent – the American Trucking Association. The group represents the American trucking industry, and believes that the only way to prevent any accidents involving underride guards is to prevent accidents involving trucks in the first place.
The American Trucking Association claims that it has invested more than $9 billion in trucking safety measures and campaigns to help reduce the risk of injuries to occupants of smaller vehicles in accidents with commercial trucks. The group says that more and more trucks now come with electronic stability control, forward collision warning systems, automatic emergency braking and a number of other technologies that are designed to help prevent the risk of accidents. Focusing on underride safety, they believe, is redundant.
The very severe threat facing occupants of smaller vehicles involved in an accident with a large truck are too severe for any talk of redundancy in safety measures. The trucking industry must gear up to meet safety challenges involving their vehicles, and contribute to keeping Indiana motorists safer.
The Indiana trucking accident attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent persons injured in trucking accidents across Indiana. Call the office today!