When traffic suddenly screeches to a halt, it is possible for a car to slide underneath the back of a large truck. Most large trucks have steel bars called underride guards installed to prevent this from happening. But many underride guards are inadequate, and some trucks aren’t even required to have underride guards installed.
When underride guards aren’t in place or aren’t strong enough to stop a car from sliding under a truck, the energy absorption areas of the car are bypassed and the top of the car gets crushed—leading to severe and fatal head and neck injuries for occupants inside the car. Although some truck manufacturers have started installing underride guards that are stronger than what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires, many large trucks don’t have adequate underride guard protection which puts occupants of cars at greater risk.
Improving Underride Guards Improves Roadway Safety
NHTSA has recently proposed a rulemaking that would strengthen the standards for underride crash protection on single unit trucks, which include trash trucks, garbage haulers, dump trucks, concrete mixers, tank trucks, and local delivery trucks. NHTSA is also calling for reflective tape to be required on these trucks to increase visibility.
These are some of the first steps in enhancing truck safety, which would help keep motorists safer on the roads. When trucks become more visible, drivers will be able to see trucks better, which ultimately could reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that occur from underride collisions.
According to NHTSA, rear impact guards could prevent an estimated 30 injuries and save five lives annually, and reflective tape could save an estimated 14 lives each year. When truck safety is strengthened, everyone benefits.