Most people on the road are aware of the fact that commercial trucks pose a special risk to people in passenger vehicles. Special precautions, like driving regulations for commercial drivers and increased safety equipment, are intended to reduce crashes. Underride guards on the rear (and the sides) of commercial trucks are one such device.
In accidents, when passenger vehicles rear-end commercial trucks, the passenger vehicle risks getting pulled underneath the larger, commercial truck. When that happens, the top of the car can end up sheared off, which creates a substantial risk of decapitation and death. In order to reduce these horrific and often deadly crashes, the Unites States has federal regulations requiring underride guards. These metal devices prevent smaller vehicles from going under commercial trucks.
Standards may not require strong enough guards
Testing and crash analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed many years ago that the size and strength of the minimum underride guard standards in the United States isn’t enough. Although they have petitioned for increased standards domestically, so far requirements for both strength and width in underride guards have not been changed.
Weak, small or rusted underride guards can fail to perform their function and leave people in cars susceptible to disastrous underride crashes. When that happens, innocent people end up injured or even killed in a completely preventable tragedy.
Ideally, people would avoid all major collisions with commercial trucks. Sadly, that simply isn’t possible. Commercial/passenger vehicle crashes occur every day, putting people in Kentucky at risk of serious injuries or even fatal crashes. In cases where a crash involves a truck with a minimally compliant (or aged and non-compliant) underride guard, the trucking company could be found liable for failing to adequately invest in safety equipment to protect drivers on the roads.
Some trucks install better guards than others
For trucking companies that cross the border into Canada, it is necessary to install bigger and stronger underride guards. In 2007, Canada implemented stricter safely requirements for these devices, which means that trucks that drive in both the United States and Canada adhere to a higher standard of safety. Tests also indicated that underride guards manufactured by Canadian company Manac offer the greatest amount of protection during crashes with limited overlap.
In crashes where cars hit the exact center of the rear of a commercial truck, most underride guards prevent underride accidents. If the smaller vehicle drifts left or right, however, the functionality of all but the Canadian underride guards decreases. Even if standards have not gotten updated federally, the evidence is clear that stronger and wider guards reduce the risk posed to average drivers by commercial trucks. Companies that fail to update or maintain their guards put everyone on the road at risk.