As experienced personal injury attorneys practicing in New Orleans, we try to keep up to date on issues related to motor vehicle safety. Collisions involving trucks pose obvious and extreme danger to those in passenger vehicles, and – in our opinion – additional steps should be taken to protect motorists from these very large vehicles. Over a year ago, we discussed a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on the effectiveness of truck underride guards. Recently, the federal government confirmed that it has been studying the issue and is considering new regulations.
Underride guards are the metal bars that can be seen hanging down along the rear of tractor trailers. Their purpose is to stop smaller motor vehicles from sliding underneath the trailer in a collision. Without the guard, the front of many passenger vehicles can slide right under the trailer, causing the brunt of the impact to be taken directly on the windshield and seating area. The IIHS study found that underride guards manufactured to U.S. standards could not withstand a 35 mph impact from a midsized sedan.
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a statement indicating that it became aware of an issue with rear corner impact crashes to tractor trailers in 2009, and has since begun a field analysis to determine what changes should be made. The standards for truck underride guards have not changed since the mid-1990s.
While any improvement would be a step in the right direction, it is troubling that the NHTSA only mentions rear corner impact crashes in its statement. In the IIHS study, underride guards manufactured to U.S. standards failed not just in rear corner collisions, but also when the impact directly to the center of the guard – where it should be the strongest. One of two underride guards manufactured to stricter Canadian standards also failed when struck straight on, not just in the corner. It is clear that improvement needs to be made not just regarding corner collisions, but also in regard to direct impacts.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of an accident with a truck, we can help you. Please call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.