Side Guards on Semi Trucks Could Save Lives, Safety Group Reports
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a nonprofit Virginia-based vehicle safety research group, says that side guards installed on tractor trailers could save lives in accidents, according to an article by WUSA9.
The Department of Transportation, however, has rejected proposals for any additional rules requiring side guards on tractor trailers to be required.
Lois D. is the mother of a victim of an underride accident. Underride accidents occur when a passenger vehicle slides on the underside of a tractor trailer, causing the vehicle to be crushed. Lois disagrees with the DOT’s rejection of adding side guards to the tractor trailers, WUSA9 reports. She believes that installing side guards could have prevented the death of her daughter.
Lois’ daughter died in 2004 when the vehicle driven by her fiancé went underneath the side of the trailer tractor in an underride accident.
Many families across the nation have felt the pain Lois has endured when their family members’ lives were claimed in underride accidents.
The IIHS reportedly found that over a single year’s time in 2015, underride accidents were responsible for about half of the deaths of the 301 individuals whose vehicles hit the side of a tractor trailer. The group states that if those trailers were equipped with side guards, the number of fatalities could have been reduced.
The group also conducted crash tests with and without side guards on trailers, WUSA9 reported. Referred to as “Angel Wings,” these side guards are currently the only ones on the market at the moment.
In the tests without the guard, the crash test dummy driver’s head was crushed under the side of the trailer, and in the crash test where there were side rails, the crash test dummy driver did not get crushed.
IIHS states that these side guards can potentially reduce the rates of serious injuries and death in 90 percent of underride accidents, yet the government has no regulations requiring trailers to be equipped with side guards.
The news outlet stated that the Federal Register indicated that the DOT was potentially in favor of a law requiring side guards on semi trailer trucks as far back as 1969.
A later memo from the transportation from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration stated in 1991 that “… side underride countermeasures have been determined not to be cost-effective,” the article stated.
WUSA9 reportedly attempted to secure an interview with the NHTSA and Texas Transportation Institute for additional information. NTHSA has not responded to the request, and Texas Transportation Institute has referred the news outlet to the DOT.
The NHTSA did send a statement regarding the ongoing research related to underride protection and said that it will “continue to consider innovative approaches to prevent crashes and expedite safety advances that could occur through the formal regulatory process.”
As for Lois, she has taken it upon herself to lobby members of Congress, senators and the NHTSA in order to have side guards added to all semi trailer trucks on the road and hopes that she can prevent the tragedies that she and her family have had to endure.
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