NHTSA Moves Forward With New Rule to Prevent Charlotte Underride Truck Accidents

The prevention of deadly truck accidents is an important goal. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates 333,000 large trucks were involved in collisions in 2012. The collisions killed 3,921 people and injured 104,000 people.  In 70 percent of deadly truck accidents, someone other than the trucker is the one who dies according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

There are lots of different kinds of truck crashes in North Carolina which can be deadly. One of the deadliest types of truck accidents, however, involves a collision in which a car goes under a truck. This can happen if the car hits the truck from the truck’s rear and goes underneath the back of the truck. Cars can also get forced under the side of a truck in accidents.

Special bars called underride guards should prevent cars from being able to get under trucks, but the rules for the bars aren’t good enough to ensure the bars actually work. As a result, while most trucks have underride guards, the guards aren’t doing enough. Now, NHTSA is finally taking some action to try to change this.

NHTSA Moves Forward With Underride Truck Accident Prevention Efforts

In December 2015, NHTSA published a new Notice of Proposed Rule Making. NHTSA is trying to change the requirements for rear impact guards and for rear impact protection as found in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs) Number 223 and 224. NHTSA’s changes would impose more robust requirements for rear impact guards on tractor trailers and on semi-trailers so underride safety prevention guards would have to improve.

NHTSA has taken a long time to move forward with the proposed new rule. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been sounding the alarm for about a decade about how inadequate existing underride guards have proved to be. NHTSA waited, though, and now there will still be an additional wait as the new proposed regulation moves through the regulatory rule-making process. As NHTSA has waited to take action, people have died.  Around 423 people in passenger vehicles lose their lives annually because of underride accidents. There are also in excess of 5,000 people injured yearly because of underride accidents.

One study of 1,000 collisions took a closer look at underride accident rates and results were troubling. There were 28 fatal truck accidents included in this body of research, and in 23 of the accidents in which people died, there was severe or catastrophic underride damage. Even in more minor accidents, only 22 percent of the collisions didn’t involve at least some underride occurring.

With newer regulations being put into place, hopefully the improved and more robust underride guards will actually stop cars from becoming trapped under trucks where occupants can suffer brain injuries or other serious damage.  Obviously, it will remain the responsibility of truck drivers and trucking companies to ensure all new safety equipment is installed and to ensure vehicles are being driven carefully to avoid accidents from occurring.