Personal injury accidents involving collisions with large trucks occur all-too frequently in the New Orleans area. One of the greatest hazards in such accidents is the possibility of a car sliding under the truck, leading to serious injury or death. A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on the effectiveness of truck underride guards has found that additional steps need to be taken to protect motorists.
When the nose of car slides underneath a truck during an automobile accident, the vehicle’s occupant compartment may impact the truck directly and take the brunt of the force from the collision. Underride guards hang down underneath the truck for the purpose of impacting the nose of a car during an accident, which should keep the car from sliding underneath.
Following an analysis of data from 2001-2003, which demonstrated that underride was a common occurrence in cases where a car impacted the rear of a truck, the IIHS tested three different types of underride guards by driving a 2010 Chevy Malibu into them at 35 mph. All three of the guards tested met U.S. safety standards, and two met more stringent Canadian standards.
When struck in the center by the car, the underride guard, manufactured to meet U.S. standards, bent forward, sheared its attachment bolts, and broke. Moreover, only one of the two guards manufactured to Canadian standards prevented underride when struck in the center at this speed.
The results were even worse when impacts that occurred at an offset from the center of the guard truck were tested. Because the underride guard’s supports tended to be placed near the center of the vehicle, offset impacts stressed the unsupported portions of the guards, causing them to bend and allowing the car to slide underneath the truck. This portion of the test found that even the best designed guard tested – the one which had performed properly upon center impact – left as much as half of the rear of the truck vulnerable to severe underride.
The U.S. does not require front or side underride guards, only rear ones. The European Union has required front underride guards on large trucks since 2003 and side guards since 1989. Clearly higher standards for both construction and placement of guards need to be considered in the U.S.
If you have been injured in a collision with a truck and have any questions, we would be happy to help you. Please call at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.