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At Long Last, Better Underride Guards on Tractor-Trailers

underride guards

Photo via IIHS

New underride guards to help prevent fatalities in the event of a crash

How about some good news? After years of pressure from safety advocates, semitrailer companies are making changes.

For the first time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has issued the “Toughguard” rating to semi-trailer manufacturers who pass the new underride guard crash tests. Five of eight of the largest North American semitrailer manufacturers earned top honors.

An underride guard is the metal bumper on the rear of a tractor-trailer, designed to keep smaller cars from going underneath the truck in the event of a rear-end crash. However, underride guards frequently prove ineffective, breaking or buckling in a collision. When they fail, cars slide under the rear of the trailer, crushing the cabin, as in the photo below. As you can see in the picture, vehicle occupants stand little chance of survival. Any accident with a tractor trailer can be devastating, but these kinds of crashes tend to be especially deadly.

underride guards fail

Underride guard fails – Photo via IIHS

Toughguard Winners

The new Toughguard award from IIHS recognizes the semi-trailers whose underride guards performed well in a series of crash tests. Researchers simulated crashes between a midsize car and a tractor trailer at 35mph  in three modes: 100% (full width, wherein the car hits the rear of a trailer more or less in the center), 50%, and 30% (small overlap, wherein the car collides with the outer rear edge of the trailer). The following manufacturers passed all three tests:

  • Great Dane
  • Manac
  • Stoughton
  • Vanguard
  • Wabash

Underride Guards and Preventable Truck Accident Deaths

The change comes just in time; traffic deaths rose again in 2016, and fatal truck crashes have been increasing steadily since 2011. For years, safety groups and bereaved families petitioned for improved underride guards. Both the trucking industry and government safety regulators were slow to respond.

However, after researchers began testing underride guards five years ago,  manufacturers voluntarily improved their trailers’ performance. The IIHS does not have regulatory power; all they could do was perform research and provide safety information. Armed with this knowledge, manufacturers stepped up and made changes to the design of their underride guards on their new trailers and even replace the guards on some of their older trailers.

The truck accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys hope that these changes may reduce the unnecessary deaths on our nation’s highways.

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Posted in Truck Accidents.

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