When there is a trucking accident involving a semi-truck or tractor-trailer the end result is never a good thing. The injuries and the loss of life for those involved in these trucking accidents are horrific but there is one type of crash that remains to be the most dangerous and potentially fatal, the side underride crash.
These side underride crashes could be prevented with simply installed devices called side guards yet very few trucks in the United States have installed them. Why? Why are lawmakers and safety advocates not pushing to make these guards required thus preventing side underride crashes? Garrett Law Group investigates.
Side Underride Crash Defined
We have all seen a sequence in an action movie where a speeding car is racing alongside a semi-truck and at some point, the car passes under the empty space between the front and back wheels of the tractor-trailer and comes out the on the other side unscathed. True, it does make for an exciting scene in a movie but in reality, when a typical passenger car collides with the side of a tractor-trailer, the car will not make it to the other side in one piece. The vehicle will get swept up into that empty space underneath the trailer and results in one of the most deadly driving situations that one could find themselves in.
Imagine if you will, being swept under a tractor-trailer that is doing 70 to 80 mph on a congested highway. At any moment the trailer could shear the entire top of your car off or you and your passengers could be crushed by the back wheels of the tractor-trailer. No matter the safety features that your car is equipped with, it is not going to do much in the way of saving you and your most precious of cargo, your family, and friends. Safety features like airbags and crumple-free zones do not even enter into the equation when looking at the destructive nature of these wreaks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 200 people die in side underride crashes in the United States each year.
Underride Side Guards
Side Underride Guards (SUG’s), are in fact safety devices that can be installed on semi-trucks and 18-wheel tractor-trailers that have one purpose, preventing deadly underride accidents. These SUG’s are relatively simple devices that are installed in order to act as a barrier across the exposed space on both sides of a truck’s trailer. So, instead of sliding under the truck, cars crash into and bounce off these SUG’s and then allow for the car’s safety features to work properly thus reducing the severity of accidents and the number of injuries and fatalities in side underride accidents.
This type of underride guard is by no means new science. Scientists along with safety experts long ago identified the extreme dangers of underride crashes and the danger that they pose to drivers, which is the reason that every tractor-trailer is equipped with a rear underride guard. This rear guard’s purpose is to prevent cars from going under a truck in the event of a rear-end collision. Side Guards extend this proven life-saving feature to the side of the truck.
In recent years there has been a real push to install side underride guards on all semi-trucks and 18 wheelers even though there has been available data showing that by installing these underride guards, a real difference could be made in reducing fatalities in truck wrecks. For example, research from the Traffic Injury Prevention journal in 2012 examined 206 side underride crashes that resulted in serious or fatal injuries, of the 206, 75 percent of them could have been prevented if underride side guards had been in place.
Why Aren’t Underride Side Guards Mandatory?
Lawmakers along with safety advocates are currently pushing to create regulations that would require the industry to make underride side guards mandatory on all tractor-trailers and semi-trucks. However, as with many past trucking safety reforms and current proposals that would make highways safer, the trucking industry and its lobbying groups are pushing back against calls for universal underride side guards.
It is not surprising to learn that most of these groups’ objections are based on money and the belief that installing these underride side guards would impact short-term profits for trucking companies. The Truck Trailer Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) for example has repeatedly opposed measures that would mandate side underride guards, saying that the barriers aren’t cost-effective and would add too much weight to trucks.
True, installing underride side guards would take some problem-solving, but the payoff would be saving hundreds of lives a year. Unfortunately, saving a life does not seem to trump the almighty dollar so, trucking companies will keep prioritizing short-term profits over the safety of their driver’s and the safety of those with whom their trucks share the road with.
If you’ve been seriously hurt or lost a loved one in a crash, especially a devastating side underride truck wreck, you should contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer for help right away. Many side underride crashes happen because of a truck driver and trucking company’s negligence, and you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.
Contact Jones Brown Law
After a serious truck accident, it’s important to contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer right away so they can begin investigating your case and preserving the evidence. Whether you were in a collision involving a semi-truck, or you are the driver of the semi-truck, you must take immediate action after a truck accident. The trucking company and its insurance provider may have investigators on the scene immediately, looking for evidence to use against the truck accident victim. At Jones Brown Law, we have the resources and experience to handle complex truck crash cases. We’re here to listen to your story, and we’ll fight until the end to get you justice and compensation if we can take your case. CLICK HERE to contact Jones Brown Law.