Several weeks ago, US Senators Marco Rubio and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Stop Underrides Act of 2017. Representatives Steve Cohen and Mark DeSaulnier introduced mirrored the legislation by introducing a bill in US House of Representatives on the same day. The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 seeks to prevent a type of truck accident that occurs when smaller vehicles run underneath trailers on semi-trucks. Smaller passenger vehicles can easily be sheered in half. Many underride accident victims are decapitated or catastrophically injured. This new legislation would require large trucks to use side and front underride guards if it became a law.
Underride guards can prevent these types of accidents. Instead of running underneath the trailer, a passenger vehicle hits guards that hang underneath the back or side of a truck’s trailer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has required rear underride guards since the late 1990s. No such law or federal rule currently exists that would require large trucks to use side underride guards. A motorist driving behind a semi-truck might be protected from a rear underride accident, but they could still be in mortal danger if they hit the truck from the side.
The legislation makes some other important changes. Current federal standards for underride guards may not be sufficient for preventing an underride accident. Testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) during 2011 shows that guards may break or bend when they are hit by passenger vehicles at 35 miles per hour. The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 would require underride guards to withstand these forces. In addition to improving existing underride guards, the bill also calls for research into guards that can prevent underride accidents at 65 miles per hour. Some underride accidents occur at much higher speeds than 35 miles per hour.
Lawmakers responsible who introduced the Stop Underrides Act of 2017 included the names of many victims of underride accidents in the bill. While the bill is not it is not guaranteed to pass and be signed into law, it did renew an important conversation on how underride guard requirements can be improved.
Mike Love & Associates, LLC is a Lufkin, Texas personal injury law firm with extensive experience helping victims of car and truck accidents. If you or a loved one were harmed in a truck accident, our attorneys could inform you of your rights and options for pursuing compensation.