A recently proposed bill, Stop Underrides Act of 2017, aims to reduce the number of serious and often fatal injuries that occur to occupants of passenger vehicles when they collide with large commercial trucks. The legislation will require all trailers, semi-trailers, and trucks over 10,000 pounds to have front, rear, and side underride guards installed to prevent passenger vehicles from sliding underneath the truck in the event of a crash.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 4,000 people were fatally injured in truck accidents in 2015. Sixty-nine percent of those fatally injured were drivers or occupants of passenger vehicles. Because commercial trucks are much taller than passenger vehicles, many cars slide underneath the beds of the trucks and result in severe head and neck injuries, as well as decapitations. The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that rear, side, and front underride guards be designed to prevent passenger vehicles traveling 35 miles per hour or more from riding underneath the truck bed.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will conduct research to establish underride guards that effectively prevent injuries and trucks from also overriding a passenger car. All trucks affected by the proposed mandates will be subject to on-road inspections as well as pre-trip inspections by the Commercial Vehicles Safety Alliance. Any truck found to be non-compliant will be taken out of service.
If the proposed bill is passed, rules will be established for each underride guard. Compliance will be required one year after each ruling is established for front, side, and rear underride guards. The initial phase-in period could take as long as three years. Rules will include underride guard specifications as well as mandates for routine maintenance and inspection of the underride guards.
The goal of the U.S. Department of Transportation is to establish prototypes for underride guards that can prevent passenger vehicles from going underneath commercial trucks while traveling at speeds up to 65 miles per hour. They will also re-evaluate the efficiency and safety of these underride guards every five years, making improvements as more statistical information becomes available. Moreover, the proposal includes the establishment of a committee that will work together to establish the rules for underride guards. This committee will include truck and automobile manufacturers, engineers, public health administrators, and families of victims injured in underride accidents.
While many in the commercial trucking industry are concerned with the cost and additional weight the mandated underride guards will add to their vehicles, safety experts claim the benefits to public safety far outweigh those concerns. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Committee of Underride Protection will consider the trucking industries concerns when establishing the prototypes and rules affecting the underride guards.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced team of Cherry Hill truck accident lawyers at Williams Cedar at 856-874-7500 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and across the nation.