5 On Your Side

Auto insurers request stronger underride regulations

Posted March 1, 2011

The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration estimates that 423 people die each year and 5,000 are injured in underride accidents – when a car rear-ends a tractor-trailer and is crushed by the impact.

A long piece of steel at the back of trucks called an underride guard is supposed to keep that from happening. Often they don’t work, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a non profit organization of auto insurers that’s pushing for stronger regulation.

Researchers performed crash tests with cars that get top safety ratings. Testers found at speeds of just 35 mph, underride guards can fail.

IIHS President Adrian Lund said because of advances in safety technology, hitting a brick wall in a car would actually be safer.

"When you hit a large truck that protection is bypassed. We're talking about occupants actually making direct contact with the back of the trucks with their heads," Lund said.

underride Auto insurers request stronger underride regulations

Roy Crawford’s 16-year-old son Guy died in an underride accident in 1994. It was dark, and the truck had no rear reflectors and no underride guard.

“The child I lost was my favorite person in the world. It's not something you get over," Crawford said. “It's terribly sad every time it happens because it's completely avoidable."

The trucking industry agrees with IIHS that it's time to do something.

“There's clearly a step that probably needs to be taken," said President and CEO of American Trucking Associations Bill Graves.

Graves added, "What the federal government thought was adequate a number of years ago when these specifications were developed is probably not adequate today."

NHTSA said it is aware of the problem. However the agency is not making any commitments to developing new regulations any time soon.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Ron Melancon Mar 7, 2011

    Your Area had a teacher that lost her life back in September!!! and NHTSA could care less....

    Please go to www.dangeroustrailers.org do you understand that only 32 million "passenger Cars That Tow Trailers" have killed in 2009 ALONE 379 people and injured over 21,542 people and nobody but us are addressing.

    Do you realize that a cop was just killed two weeks ago by the same thing...and NHTSA does nothing but fight us.

    Help us!!!! Please we know how to save lives...but our government is fighting us.

  • haleibc Mar 2, 2011

    How about this? Get off your cell phone. Drink your coffee, put on your make up, and read the morning newspaper before leaving home. No regulation or safety device can prevent all accidents. Its called driving responsibly.

  • superbumper Mar 2, 2011

    That under-ride guard is set at 22" from the ground to the bottom of the bumper by the Federal Government. But there are a lot of pickup trucks you can drive off the lot with bumpers higher than that. You are two times more likely to die from a post collision vehicle fire to a pickup truck (because the bullet vehicle underrode the bumper and hit the gas tank) than backing over someone with it (yet we have back up sensors) - so how about an under-ride guard for pickup trucks like these energy absorbing ones from sparebumper.com...