Side underride guards on semi-tractor-trailers can save lives. That was the conclusion of a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Standard No. 223 - 49 CFR 571.223 - requires large trucks to be equipped with rear impact guards, which pass certain height and rigidity test criteria.
The purpose of these guards is to prevent passenger vehicles from sliding underneath the truck and suffering catastrophic or fatal injuries in the event of a Connecticut truck accident. Side impact crashes involving underride by passenger vehicles claimed 301 lives in 2015 (about 1 in 5 of all side impact collisions involving semi-trucks). On top of that, half of bicyclists and one-quarter of pedestrians killed by a large truck first impact the side of the truck. The risk in these scenarios is that the vulnerable road user gets swept underneath the truck and is subsequently run over by the back wheels.
Previous studies conducted in the U.K. revealed a 61 percent drop in bicyclist fatalities and a 20 percent decline in the number of side-impact deaths when there were collisions with large trucks.
Advocates Want Safer Trucks
The IHHS study found that side underride guards were effective in preventing fatal crashes by comparing two passenger vehicles in 35 mph t-bone collisions withe semi-truck.
Truck accident lawyers in Fairfield County understand there is a legislative push - largely from two mothers whose children died in separate side-impact truck accidents - to compel lawmakers to pass federal regulation that would mandate side impact guards on all tractor-trailers. As it now stands, only a handful of municipalities require the guards, and that only pertains to their own municipal fleet and those of their contractors.
The pair have written a bill they hope will gain traction. Named after their daughters, the measure is the culmination of years' worth of advocacy to make safer trucks. While trucking companies insist they are working to make safer trucks by investing some $9 billion collectively into technology such as forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking features, they have been resistant to this fix. One representative quoted by NPR said the goal should be on preventing crashes in the first place.
Of course, this is an important goal. But it's short-sighted if it's the only goal because until we have self-driving vehicle technology, it's unlikely we will eliminate trucking accidents on our highway. Regardless of who is at-fault, no one should suffer a death sentence for a mistake on the road.
By some estimates, the side underride guards could be installed for as little as $100.