The U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced updates to Federal Motor Vehicle Standards involving semi-truck trailer rear underride guards. These guards are supposed to prevent smaller vehicles from getting wedged under the trailer when rear-ended. All crashes involving trucks can be deadly, but these vehicle crashes are particularly lethal.
The rule changes
These were instituted as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The rule changes are:
- Requiring rear undercarriage guards to have sufficient strength and energy absorption to protect occupants of passenger vehicles in multiple crash scenarios
- Adding more research and establishing a federal advisory committee on underride protection
- Publishing advanced notice on proposals for side underride guards for semi-truck trailers
- Improving data collection by including underride categories to crash information
- Further improving the newly instituted rear impact guards
These initiatives are said to be key parts of the USDOT’s 2022 National Roadway Safety Strategy.
IIHS president says it is not enough
In light of these changes, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety president David Harkey quickly responded with criticism:
“While the new standard is an improvement over the old one, nearly all newly manufactured guards on trailers already meet this new standard, which is similar to a longstanding Canadian requirement.” He added, “The NHTSA needs to incorporate changes that would require crash testing of guards when mounted on trailers, allow fewer exemptions for other kinds of trucks and improve protection in offset crashes.”
He is right
As Harkey stated, many trucks already comply with these rules, and yet the fatalities continue to mount. Families who have lost loved ones or those injured in truck accidents have their lives forever changed by these accidents. Fortunately, they can hold the truck lines accountable for the injuries their vehicles continue to cause. Damages can include lost wages, property damages, related medical costs, and pain and suffering due to these cataclysmic events.