Underride Guard Mandate Proposed to Prevent Catastrophic Injuries

Underride Guard Mandate Proposed to Prevent Catastrophic InjuriesIn October 2015, a young North Carolina man narrowly survived a brutal crash with a tractor-trailer in Spruce Pine. Tim Whitson, 19 years old at the time, was driving when a tractor-trailer collided with his truck leaving it buried under the side of the trailer. He suffered brain injuries, cuts, and two broken legs. His injuries were so severe that he had metal rods placed from his hips to his knees. He had to learn how to walk again.

Tim’s father, Rodney Whitson, described what his son went through. “A good daddy would never want to see what I’ve seen,” Rodney said. “I’ve seen my boy scream in pain.”

This and numerous other incidents and fatalities involving car and tractor-trailer collisions are finally generating serious Congressional action.

The Stop Underrides Act could help protect drivers

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends that all new trailers have under right guards installed. However, the agency can only make recommendations. It takes Congress to create an enforceable law.

Sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the Stop Underrides Act would mandate underride guards on large trucks. The Act addresses rear, side and front underride guards that would be installed on “all trailers, semi-trailers, and single unit trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds that are manufactured on or after the effective date of the rule.”

The ability of underride guards to meet mandated safety standards will be evaluated through crash tests. These tests involve a vehicle traveling at 35 mph impacting the guard. The underride guard must prevent the vehicle from traveling underneath the rear or side of a trailer or single unit truck.

Federal law currently mandates guards on the rear of trailers and certain types of trucks. The current standards for these guards, however, are considered inadequate by some underride guard advocates.

In 2015, according to the Institute for Highway Safety, 292 people were killed in passenger vehicles that slammed into the backs of tractor-trailers. IIHS also reports that 301 people died in side crashes with tractor trailers.

Rear underride guard test requirements

One rear guard impact test will have the vehicle (one half of its width) hitting the center of the back of the trailer or truck.  A second test will have 30 percent of the vehicle’s width covering the rear of the trailer or truck during impact.

Side underride guard test requirements

Side underride guards must be able to prevent a vehicle traveling at 35 mph from passing underneath side of a trailer. If the vehicle does pass through, the consequences can be disastrous as the driver of the vehicle and its occupants are vulnerable to severe, life-threatening injuries.

The legislation proposed in the Stop Underrides Act would require older trailers and trucks after a period of time to be retrofitted with side and rear guards.

The requirements would also extend to fitting trailers and trucks with front under right guards to prevent these large vehicles from overriding passenger cars.

The proposed legislation would require routine inspections of rear, side, and front guards to ensure they can withstand the required impacts. Vehicles with guards that fail these inspections will receive a sticker that indicate a violation and leave the vehicle owners subject to fines. The inadequate guards will need to be repaired or replaced before the trailer truck can be driven again.

If you are feeling uncertain or overwhelmed in the aftermath of injuries suffered in a trucking accident do to another party’s negligence, a seasoned South Carolina truck accident attorney from our team at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC can help. We have the resources and know-how to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. You can count on us to fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve. To begin with a free consultation, fill out our contact form or call us at 803-327-7800.