Truck Under-Ride Guards Can Fail Even In Low-Speed Accidents

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is recommending the federal government require tractor-trailers to have stronger under-ride guards after completing an analysis of deadly accidents involving trucks. They found that rear guards provide inadequate protection for motorists in passenger vehicles. The combination of low cars and high trailers makes the risk for death much greater for those involved in an accident with large trucks.

Approximately 423 deaths occur to those in passenger vehicles each year from striking the back of a large truck, and over 5,000 are injured, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates. The IIHS reported that 70 percent of all deaths in truck crashes were to occupants of passenger vehicles.

The IIHS noted during crash testing that the main threat from a vehicle crashing into the rear of a large truck is decapitation. Even the strongest performing trailer rear guard left half of the trailer subject to severe under-ride risk. This was true even at speeds as low as 35 mph.

The IIHS believes part of the problem is that current standards for rear guard certification do not require the whole system to be tested, but only individual parts. In addition, regulatory gaps let some large trucks to avoid placing a rear guard altogether.

All rear guards are not created equal, the IIHS testing showed. Of the three types of rear guards tested, the one certified only by U.S. standards (the other two also met more stringent Canadian standards) underperformed compared to the other manufacturers. The manufacturer Hyundai Translead bent forward, sheared off its attachment bolts, and completely broke when struck at 35 mph.

The IIHS noted that without regulation, truck manufacturers have very little incentive to provide for the safety of passenger vehicles in under-ride accidents. They are hoping the NHTSA will move forward with passing more stringent rear-guard standards in the near future.

Were You or a Loved One In a Truck Accident?

These deadly accidents can take a horrible toll on the injured victims and family of those who are in a truck accident. If you or a loved one was in a truck accident, speak to a personal injury attorney. A lawyer with an extensive background in truck accident cases can hold truck drivers or manufacturers accountable for their negligence, whether it be from speeding, lack of sleep or the manufacturer not keeping up with federal regulations.