Do large truck underride guard requirements need an update? P.1

Truck accidents can take a variety of forms, but one type of truck accident readers may not be as aware of is underride collisions. These accidents occur when a motorist’s vehicle slides underneath the body of a truck and is crushed. Such accidents are particularly deadly, and there is a fight to make these types of accidents rarer.

Under current federal law all vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more must be equipped with underride guards which meet certain dimensional specifications. Underride guards must also meet certain strength testing and energy absorption requirements. These standards set the maximum height from the ground, maximum distance from side extremities and maximum offset from the rear plane of the truck’s trailer.

The energy and strength absorption requirement specifies minimum force resistance at different points of the guard, and minimum energy absorption at certain points of the guard. The idea behind these requirements is to ensure that underride guards are effective in preventing severe accidents.

Although underride guards have improved the situation with respect to underride accidents, particularly in cases involving rear-end collisions, many feel not enough is being done to address the risks presented by underride crashes. For one thing, underride accidents can happen not only when there is a rear end collision, but whenever there is a collision of a small vehicle with a large truck.

A recent NPR story highlights the struggles some are currently facing in attempting to get Congress to improve truck safety standards when it comes to underride collisions. Proponents of change want not only stricter underride guard requirements, but also sideguards for large trucks.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, and why victims of truck accidents should always work with an experienced attorney when seeking compensation after these accidents.

Source: NHTSA, "The Effectiveness of Underride Guards for Heavy Trailers," Oct. 2010.