When a car and a truck collide, the car is at a serious disadvantage. One particularly devastating type of crash is when the car slides underneath the back of a heavy tractor-trailer. The federal government requires that most heavy truck trailers be equipped with underride guards, which are steel bars that hang down from the backs of trailers. These are designed to prevent the front of passenger vehicles from moving underneath in a crash to the back. Most do a good job, thus increasing survival chances during a crash, as shown by a recent test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, in crashes involving only a small portion of the truck’s rear, most trailers fail to prevent potentially deadly underride accidents from occurring.
Crash Test Results
The Institute tested trailers to see how well guards prevented underride in a 35 mph crash. Trailers were tested from eight different manufacturers, which together account for 80% of the heavy truck trailer market. Each trailer, which met U.S. and Canadian standards, was tested up to three times; in a full overlap crash test, a 50% overlap crash test and a narrow overlap crash test.
All trailers prevented underride in the full overlap crash test at 35 mph. All but one prevented underride in the 50% overlap scenario. And, only one, manufactured by Manac, prevented underride in all three-overlap tests.
Underride Guard Requirements are Inadequate
Modern cars are equipped with a crush zone at the front that is designed to minimize injury to occupants, but this crush zone only works in a collision with a trailer if the trailer’s underride guard stays in place.
Research shows that minimum strength and dimension requirements for underride guards are inadequate, prompting the Institute to petition the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for more stringent requirements. Already, though, trailer manufacturers have responded by installing guards that are significantly stronger that the agency mandates.
A likely reason for this is that trailers in Canada have had to meet tougher guard standards since 2007.
Underride Guard Improvements
In their successful underride guard, Manac engineers have moved the vertical supports further from the center of the trailer, which makes the ends of the guard stronger. With this guard, not only did the test car and dummy fare better, but the trailer sustained less damage and was less expensive to repair. The IIHS test indicates that the tougher Canadian requirements are a good first step, but that design improvements are necessary to make underride guards even more effective.
Contact Seattle Trucking Accident Attorneys
If you or someone you love is injured in a trucking accident, an experienced Seattle truck accident attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help. Time is of the essence; so don’t delay. Trucking companies have large firms on their side that are dedicated to protecting their bottom line and limiting their liabilities. You need a firm on your side who knows how to take on the large trucking companies.
If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle personal injury lawsuit attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.
The personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way, Bellingham, Marysville, Lakewood, Redmond, Shoreline, and throughout the State of Washington.