Rear Impact Guards May Not Be Tough Enough to Stop Deadly Underride Truck Crashes

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the underride guards on tractor-trailers are not strong enough to prevent a smaller vehicle from getting under a big rig during a rear-end crash. The consequences can prove deadly for the car occupants. Over 350 people a year are killed in truck underride accidents. If weak or inadequate underride guards are causing preventable injuries and deaths, the victims and their families may have grounds for an auto products liability case.
The IIHS arrived at these findings after its new crash tests and analysis showed that the underride guards may fail in low-speed collisions. For example, when the Institute crashed a 2010 Chevy Malibu moving at 35 mph into a parked trailer equipped with a rear guard that meets US standards, the guard gave away, causing the vehicle to slide underneath the trailer and crushing it. The IIHS says that if real people had been in the car they likely would not have survived. The Institute also examined Large Truck Crash Causation Study data to identify crash patterns involving the rear underride of semi-trailers and heavy trucks both with and without guards. Of the 115 truck crashes involving a passenger auto rear-ending a large truck, underride was a common outcome.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 423 vehicle occupants of cars that rear-ended large trucks are killed each year. Over 5,000 others are injured. Among the serious injuries that can result are decapitation, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, crushed bones, facial injuries, massive internal injuries, and wrongful death. An ABC News story cites Nancy Meuleners, who lost part of her tongue and her jaw in a rear underride truck crash. She has had to undergo 40 surgeries and her life was catastrophically altered because of the accident.
The IIHS says that if big rigs were equipped with stronger rear impact guards, some of the injuries and deaths could be prevented. The IIHS is petitioning the federal government to require that durable underride guards that are able to stay in place during a rear-end crash become a requirement for more large trucks and trailers.
Our automotive products liability law firm represents victims of catastrophic motor vehicle accidents caused by defective auto parts.
Underride guards on big rigs often fail in crashes; Institute petitions government for new standard, IIHS, March 1, 2011
Truck Underride Accidents: Drivers Endangered When Cars Slide Under Trailers, ABC News, March 1, 2011
Related Web Resources:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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