Side underride crashes occur when a car slides under the side of a tractor-trailer. The top of the passenger vehicle can be sheared off or crumpled; the car can get stuck under the truck and dragged down the road or crushed under the truck’s rear wheels. These types of truck accidents can result in catastrophic injuries and death.
Every year, over 200 people are fatally injured in side underride crashes. Experts say that many, if not all, of these fatalities could be prevented if laws were passed requiring trucks to be fitted with side underride guards.
The danger of underride crashes first came to the public’s attention in the late 1960s, when Hollywood star Jayne Mansfield was killed in a rear underride crash. In 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required all trucks be fitted with rear guards, called “Mansfield bars” after Jayne. Yet nearly 50 years and countless fatalities after her death, there are still no laws requiring side impact guards.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded that side impact bars would reduce fatalities and injuries. The agency recommended in 2014 that all new trucks be fitted with side guards.
The delay in safety legislation is likely due to the fact that lawmakers receive millions of dollars in campaign donations from the transportation industry, and the safety technology would be costly. Members of the Senate Commerce committee have received approximately $9 million dollars from transportation industry supporters over the past few years. This includes significant contributions from the trucking sector.
The lobbying firm known as The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association has vocally opposed the requirement of side impact guards for many years, citing “high cost” and “technical obstacles.”
However, some say that technology is not the problem, but rather the cost to corporations that would result from implementing the measure. According to a former head of the NHTSA, who now works as a consumer advocate, the trucking industry opposes side deflection guards primarily because they increase the price of a truck.
In Europe, there are certain standards for side guards on commercial trucks. According to the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, these are designed not to deflect passenger vehicles, but lighter impact collisions, such as those involving pedestrians or cyclists. However, many advocates say that they are effective at preventing some fatalities in passenger car accidents.
If you have lost a loved one in a side underride accident, we can help you hold the responsible party or parties accountable. Contact the experienced Cherry Hill truck accident lawyers at Williams Cedar today at 856-470-9777 or at 215-557-0099 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation. With offices located in Haddonfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we represent clients in Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and across the United States.