According to government data, side underride accidents claim 200 lives annually
Because the trailer portion of a tractor-trailer sits so high off the ground, trailers are particularly hazardous for passenger vehicles, which can easily slide under the trailer in a crash. These are known as underride accidents, and they more often than not result in catastrophic wrecks.
Although federal law already requires underride guards on the back of trailers, there is no regulation that makes it mandatory for trailers to be equipped with side underride guards. Now, new fatality statistics for side underride crash deaths are prompting lawmakers to consider making side underride guards required equipment for every tractor-trailer on the road.
Side Underride Crashes Kill 200 People Each Year
According to government data, side underride accidents claim 200 lives annually. In many cases, these are gruesome accidents that result in decapitation, quadriplegia, and other horrific injuries.
Many people are surprised to learn that tractor-trailer underride guards have a Hollywood connection. According to an NBC News report, the death of actress Jayne Mansfield almost five decades ago was due to an underride crash. In late June 1967, Mansfield was killed when her car encountered fog that prevented her driver from seeing a semi on the road ahead of them.
The car crashed into the back of the semi, killing her and two other adults in the car instantly. Three of Mansfield’s children, who were in the backseat, survived the accident. Safety experts believe Mansfield’s death could have been prevented had the semi-truck’s trailer been equipped with a rear underride guard.
Although the crash spurred immediate talk of requiring rear underride protection on semi-trucks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn’t begin requiring them until 1998.
NHTSA Recommends But Does Not Require Side Underride Guards
Texas tractor trailer truck accident lawyer Amy Witherite explains, “Currently, the NHTSA recommends that all new semi-truck trailers have side underride guards installed, however, this is a recommendation, which means that truck manufacturers are by law free to ignore the recommendation.”
The Truck Trailer Manufacturer Association, which is the lobbying arm of the trucking industry, has claimed that side underride guards are too costly and technically challenging to install. The lobbying group also says that adding them may weaken a trailer or dangerously increase its weight.
The NBC News report notes that tractor-trailers in Europe are required to have both rear and side underride guards on their trailers.
If you have been injured in a semi-truck underride crash, it’s important to protect your rights. Don’t wait to speak to an attorney.
Call a Texas truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.