Underride truck accidents are among the most horrific traffic accidents. They usually involved a car sliding under a truck, most often a tractor trailer truck. These accidents are often deadly and gruesome. In many cases, pieces of metal from the truck intrude into the vehicle causing passengers severe head trauma or decapitation.
Regulations requiring rear impact guards on most large trucks exist but they are 20 years old and in need of a serious upgrade. Therefore a few months ago the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a new rule to update the Federal motor vehicle safety standards that address rear underride protection in crashes into trailers and semitrailers.
The NTHSA proposal requires that the impact guard be strengthened so that it doesn’t deform if a car crashes into it at a speed of 35 mph. This is basically the equivalent of the actual Canadian standards which are themselves 10 years old. 90% of American trucks already conform to these standards. Many of them even have protective equipment that is superior to the Canadian standards. Therefore the NHTSA proposal seems obsolete before even being launched and it will not do much to reduce the actual number of deaths and injuries related to underride truck accidents.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was extremely critical of the new proposal and commented that the NHTSA rule was lagging behind and missing an opportunity to substantially improve underride protection on large trucks. The IIHS said that many truck manufacturers are already selling trucks to their customers that include protection that are much safer than the one required by the proposed rule.
Read more in Fair Warning