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Side Underride Guards May Be the Difference Between Life and Death

First-Ever Side Underride Crash Tests

A new crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows exactly how side underride guards on tractor trailers can mean the difference between life and death.

A side underride crash occurs when a passenger vehicle collides with the side of a trailer or heavy truck. The results are grisly. The impact can shear the top of the smaller vehicle and kill the occupants.

The IIHS has long been measuring rear-underride guard effectiveness, but this is the first test of side guards.  Researchers ran two midsize cars into the sides of two semi-trailers at 35 mph. One trailer was equipped with a fiberglass side panel, and the other with the “AngelWing” underride protector from Airflow Deflector, Inc.

Tractor Trailer Side Underride Guard Test Results:

side underride crash

Photo: IIHS

Fiberglass panel – As the above photo shows, the car went right through the panel and became lodged under the trailer. The crash flattened two-thirds of the car. Had a passenger been inside this vehicle, there’s little chance they would have survived.

side underride guards

Photo: IIHS

AngelWing – The crash test performed with the AngelWing side underride guard showed drastically different results. The reinforced guard stopped the car from becoming crushed beneath the side of the trailer. In a real-life crash, this guard would have prevented death and devastating injuries.

Over the last several years, deadly side-impact crashes between passenger cars and tractor trailers have been more common than rear-end crashes. Currently, federal law requires rear underride guards, but not side guards,  on tractor trailers. However, three U.S. cities have taken the first steps forward toward improving truck safety. In Boston, New York, and Seattle, all city-owned trucks must come equipped with side underride guards, as part of an effort to reduce motorist, bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities. Safety advocacy groups and bereaved families have long lobbied to make these kinds of lifesaving measures standard on all semitrailers.

As truck accident lawyers, we have seen first-hand the devastation that comes with a tractor trailer crash. Accidents happen. But when they do, appropriate safety measures and smart design can mean the difference between property damage and the loss of a loved one.

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Posted in Truck Accidents.

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