What are Side Underride Guards, and Why Do We Need Them?


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Side Underride Guards on Semis Could Save Lives

Accidents involving semi-trucks – due to their sheer size, weight, and speed – are especially terrifying and dangerous. The fact is that side underride guards could make big rigs less deadly in traffic accidents. In 2015, the Truck Safety Coalition held an Underride Roundtable in which industry leaders, safety advocates, government officials, and researchers gathered to discuss this important safety topic.

Side Underride Crashes

When a car crashes headlong into the side of a semi-truck (or is thrust into the side of a semi-truck in the course of an accident) and continues to travel into the underbelly of the massive vehicle, it is known as a side underride accident. Often, the smaller vehicle’s roof is sheared clear of its body. It is not difficult to recognize that these accidents are especially horrific. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that nearly half of all fatalities in semi-truck/passenger vehicle accidents involve underrides. The IIHS also concludes that equipping semis with durable side underride guards has the potential to reduce the risk of severe or fatal injuries in these accidents by nearly 75 percent.

Mansfield Bars

It is important to recognize that the debate over underride protections is nothing new. The famous blond bombshell Jayne Mansfield was killed in a backend underride accident decades ago, and her death unleashed a public outcry for enhanced rear and side protective devices on tractor-trailers. Although it took many years to get there, rear guards, commonly referred to as Mansfield bars, are now mandated. Side underride guards, however, have not yet become a requirement – even though it is established that they enhance safety.

Semi-Truck No Zones and Side Underride Guards

Truck drivers experience vast blind spots – areas in which they cannot see other vehicles – all the way around their rigs. There is no blind spot, however, that is larger than the one on the trucker’s right side. A truck’s blind spots are particularly treacherous, and it behooves drivers to stay out of them whenever possible. Side underride guards could help make these blind spots on the sides of semis less deadly.

Lobby Opposition to Side Underride Guards

The trucking industry’s lobbying groups are vociferously against side underride protections for reasons they find compelling:

  • The additional cost of the guards
  • The potentially dangerous additional weight of the guards
  • The technical complications involved in designing guards that maintain the physical integrity and strength of trucks

Those in opposition believe this reasoning reflects a tendency to put costs before lives.

If You Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident, Consult with an Experienced Central Texas Personal Injury Attorney Today

Semi-truck accidents are especially devastating, and if you or someone you care about has been injured – or worse – in such an accident, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer. Attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Central Texas has the experience, knowledge, and dedication to fight for your claim’s positive resolution. We are here to help, so please contact or call us at (254) 220-4225 today.

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