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.