A truck underride collision – when a car strikes a tractor-trailer and continues underneath the body of the truck – is one of the deadliest accidents on our nation’s highways. The car’s safety features are rendered useless when the top half of the car is sheared off or destroyed, resulting in catastrophic injuries to the passengers, including paralysis, decapitation, or death.
Actress Jayne Mansfield’s death in 1967 led to the first calls for underride guards on tractor-trailers. It took over 30 years, but in 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finally required rear guards on semi-trucks. But despite the fact that side underride crashes kill over 200 people every year in the United States, side guards are still not mandated by law.
The NHTSA has considered a rule requiring side underride guards numerous times over the years, but trucking industry lobbyists have convinced lawmakers that the costs and technical challenges of installing the side guards are too great. In a letter to the NHTSA, the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association said they “would support the implementation of side impact guards if they ever become justified and technologically feasible.”
Despite the denials of the trucking lobbyists, the installation of side underride guards is “justified and technologically feasible” right now. Side guards are already required in Europe and the NHTSA has recognized their value, recommending that all new tractor-trailers be equipped with side underride guards.
However, short of an explicit government mandate, the trucking industry is not going to voluntarily start building trucks with side guards. It is up to the NHTSA and the United States Congress to say no to the huge donations from the trucking industry and do what’s right for the safety of the American people. The trucking industry takes advantage of America’s laws, roads, and infrastructure to amass annual revenues in excess of $700 billion. Surely the expense of installing side underride guards on their trucks is a small price to pay to save the lives of hundreds of American motorists every year.
If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident, contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman for a free consultation or call 816.474.0004 now to speak with an attorney. We will investigate your commercial truck accident to determine if you have a claim and then negotiate a settlement or represent you at trial to ensure you receive the full monetary compensation you deserve. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.