Proposed Legislation Targets Underride Truck Crashes

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According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), many deadly truck collisions occur as a result of “smaller vehicles which underride trucks in crashes”.  An underride occurs when a passenger vehicle runs under a truck, sometimes sheering off the roof of the vehicle and killing its occupants.  Underride collisions occur because semi-trucks are much taller than passenger vehicles, and as such they have greater ground clearance. If underride crashes could be prevented, the number of deadly trucking accidents could be greatly reduced. Preventing these catastrophic results is the aim of proposed bipartisan legislation that is targeting underride crashes. According to an article in TheTrucker.com, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is introducing the bill with Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Among other issues, the bill mandates that large trucks have underride guards on the front and sides of the truck.

Need for All Tractor-Trailers to Have Underride Guards 

The bill, known as the “Stop Under-rides Act of 2017,” emphasizes how “passengers in the car often suffer severe head and neck injuries, even decapitation, on impact with the truck.” Indeed, even when trucks and smaller passenger cars are traveling at lower speeds, underride accidents tend to be fatal.

Why should tractor-trailers have to take steps to prevent these crashes by installing underride guards? In other words, should the impetus be on trucks, as opposed to passenger car manufacturers? According to Senators Gillibrand and Rubio, the safety features on a passenger vehicle are simply insufficient to protect passengers when underride collisions occur. To put it more bluntly, when an underride crash happens, “the truck comes straight through the windows and into the passengers.”

Current safety standards, which only require underride guards on the backs of trucks, are designed to prevent underride collisions when passenger cars crash into trucks in rear-end accidents. The legislation would add additional underride guard requirements on the front and sides of all tractor-trailers. In addition, the proposed legislation “would require the Department of Transportation to review underride standards every five years to evaluate the need for changes in response to advancements in technology.”

Florida Among U.S. States with Highest Rate of Truck Fatalities Due to Underride Crashes 

According to Senator Rubio, the legislation could be particularly important to Florida, which is among the state with the highest rate of semi-truck fatalities caused by underride crashes. As Rubio explained, “with hundreds of Americans losing their lives due to these crashes every year, the Stop Underrides Act seeks to prevent these kinds of deaths, make our roads safer, and spare more families the grief of losing a loved one by implementing underride guards on trucks across the nation.”

The bill is currently with the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. In the meantime, it is important for drivers in West Palm Beach and throughout the state of Florida to be aware of truck crash risks and to take preventive measures. Drivers should avoid distractions behind the wheel, including talking on a cell phone, inputting information into a GPS device and texting.

Seek Advice from a West Palm Beach Truck Accident Lawyer 

If you need assistance filing a truck accident claim, you should speak with a West Palm Beach truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC for more information about the services we provide to Florida residents injured in motor vehicle crashes.

Resources:

thetrucker.com/News/Story/Bipartisanbillintroducedtopreventunderridetruckdeaths

iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks

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