For the first time, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have proposed a bipartisan bill that will require guards on the sides and front of all trucks to help prevent cars from sliding underneath them during collisions. According to an NBC News article, Gillibrand said the bill would help close a safety gap and save hundreds of lives that are lost in truck accidents. Federal law already requires rear guards for big rigs.
Underrides Cause Horrific Injuries
When a car crashes into the side of a tractor-trailer and slides under it, the consequences can be devastating. In such cases, many of the car’s safety features are rendered worthless. When a vehicle slides under a trailer and gets wedged underneath, the top of the car may be sheared off, resulting in horrific injuries including decapitations. Federal statistics show that side underride crashes alone kill more than 200 people each year in the United States.
An NBC News investigation in February discovered that in spite of recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), side guards are still not required on trucks. The NTSB, which investigates crashes involving commercial vehicles including large trucks, has concluded that these side guards would reduce injuries and deaths caused by truck accidents on the nation’s roadways.
Long Overdue Legislation
Families of victims that were killed in truck underride crashes say they are thrilled by the introduction of this bill. Marianne Karth lost her daughters AnnaLeah, 17, and Mary, 13, in a 2003 crash in Georgia in a truck underride crash. Lois Durso lost her 26-year-old daughter, Roya Sadigh, in a similar accident. These crashes often prove fatal and they can be entirely prevented by strong truck guards.
The trucking industry has had an opportunity for decades to voluntarily install these guards. But they haven’t done that. In fact, the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, the industry’s lobbying arm, has opposed a side guard requirement for years arguing that they are costly and could weaken parts of the trailer. So, now it’s time to regulate the industry by requiring these guards, which obviously save lives and prevent horrible tragedies.
Rubio and Gillibrand’s bill will first go to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for consideration. As California truck accident attorneys, we sure hope that this bill, which is long overdue, passes and helps protects millions of commuters.