Safety Research & Strategies, Inc.-a group focused on investigating the best practices to keep consumers safe while behind the wheel-recently posted a blog story that raises doubts about the usefulness of underride guards installed on many tractor trailers.
These devices are built on the back of many large trailers as a way of preventing other vehicles riding underneath the truck in a read-end collision. However, new research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that the currently mandated guards do little to nothing to improve safety for car and truck drivers.
Since 1998, the guards are required to meet a strength test when installed on certain trailers. Six years later the NHTSA began testing the usefulness of the strength requirement to determine if the strength requirements did in fact prevent certain deadly accidents. The results of that investigation reveal that the guards had little to no effect on safety improvement. The presence or non-presence of the guard had no statistical influence on car accident deaths or serious injuries. Conversely, factors like whether the collision occurred at a corner of a trailer versus directly behind it did statistically influence the seriousness of the accident.
A large factor in the problem may be that the Administration did not do enough to improve standards when it made strength requirements in 1998. The agency decided not to push the Truck Trailer Manufacturer Association’s too much, mandating only a very small increase in the product strength requirements.
Independent researchers have tested a much better product than the one currently required. Compared to underride guards in the U.S., these alternative guards do a much better job of protecting small cars from underride.
These superior safety devices have been tested literally for decades. Researchers have known of their improved effectiveness since the 1970s, but the changes have not been required on many vehicles in the U.S. While the trucking industry may benefit from not having to make changes to its vehicle fleet, the vast majority of drivers suffer a higher risk of potential injury if caught in a rear-end crash.
Our Chicago truck crash attorneys at Levin & Perconti are committed to holding product manufacturers, drivers, trucking owners, and safety agencies accountable for their conduct. Too often the demands of a profit-seeking private entity trump the safety of the public as a whole. Victims of lackluster care to safety protocols should ensure that they hold the negligent individuals and companies responsible. Contact our truck accident lawyers if you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a large truck.
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