Big Rig Underride Guard Failure in Accidents Examined by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

April 19, 2011

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently announced new crash test results and analysis revealing the life-threatening risks of tractor-trailer underride guard failure in low-speed accidents. In determining that truck underride guards increase the chances of death or serious injury to small passenger vehicle occupants, the Institute has petitioned the federal government to enact stricter underride guards that will withstand a collision. The agency is also requesting that the federal government authorize guards for more large commercial trucks and trailers.
Although rear guards are the main defense against deaths and injuries when passenger vehicles crash into the back of tractor-trailers, these guards are dangerous because the upper part of the passenger vehicle’s occupant compartment usually crushes as the truck body strikes the vehicle. According to a Wall Street Journal report on the crash test results, truck underride guards are capable of failing at crash speeds as low as 35 mph. In a rear-end collision where a passenger vehicle hits the back of a large truck, the car’s windshield becomes the chief spot of impact. Unfortunately, this means that even some cars with top safety ratings in federal and Insurance Institute accident tests do not provide adequate protection to vehicle occupants.
Considering that in 2009, 70 percent of the 3,163 individuals who were killed in all large truck accidents were occupants of cars or other passenger vehicles, the need for stronger truck underride guard standards cannot be stressed enough.
Vehicle manufacturers have the important duty of designing, creating, and testing vehicles that are free of defects and are capable of keeping occupants safe in a collision, otherwise known as being “crashworthy.” There is no denying that individuals who are injured and family members of those killed in auto accidents that were caused due to a lack of vehicle crashworthiness face many challenges. An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation and help gather and preserve vital evidence relating to the accident so that negligent parties don’t walk away unpunished.