In a previous blog, we discussed side underride guards and how their use on tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles can help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries that can result from truck accidents. While the federal government requires steel safety guards to be mounted to the back of commercial trucks, which can help prevent devastating injuries associated with underride accidents, there are no similar laws in place requiring trucking companies to install safety guards on the sides of vehicles.
Over the years, it has become clear that side underride accidents have an overwhelming potential for causing catastrophic and fatal injuries. This is due to the nature of the crash itself, which involves a smaller passenger vehicle or pickup truck colliding into the side of a commercial tractor-trailer. Due to the differences in height, smaller vehicles commonly travel underneath the body of a truck’s trailer, which can sheer off the top of a vehicle and cut through the cabin, causing life-altering, if not fatal, injuries.
In the video clip, you can see a crash test that focuses on just how essential side underride guards are when it comes to limiting risks of serious injuries:
In the clip on the bottom half of the screen, the crash test is performed on a tractor-trailer that has not been fitted with steel side underride guards. As you can see, the vehicle’s momentum causes it to travel under the carriage of the truck’s trailer. The bottom of the trailer then crashes through the windshield and vehicle cabin, where it strikes the head of the crash test dummy. Side underride accidents pose considerable risks of traumatic brain injuries, neck and spinal cord injuries that can lead to paralysis, decapitation, and other fatal injuries. The crash featured on the bottom could have very well been fatal.
In the clip on the top half of the screen, the tractor-trailer is fitted with an approved side underride guard. This guard halts the vehicle’s forward momentum and prevents it from traveling underneath the trailer’s carriage. Although there is still a collision significant enough to deploy the airbags, the vehicle remains largely intact, especially compared to the vehicle in the bottom crash test. Additionally, the truck does not collide with the windshield or enter the cabin of the vehicle.
In the span of just a few seconds, these crash tests make it abundantly clear that side underride guards can make the difference in preventing fatal and catastrophic injuries during truck accidents. Although tests, crash data, and even agencies like the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) all support their use, side underride guards are still not being used on every commercial vehicle traveling American roadways. This is due to the fact that the trucking industry and its lobbyists work aggressively to compel politicians into voting against new laws designed to protect the public. Their motives revolve around profits, not people, and they view mandatory side underride guard regulations as too costly to implement.
The same sentiment of prioritizing profits over people is also readily apparent in personal injury cases where trucking and insurance companies fight aggressively to pay victims as little as possible. That’s why our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is passionate not only about raising awareness about important safety regulations and the corporate powers that try to quash them, but also about helping injured victims level the playing field with large corporations. By leveraging our decades of combined experience and resources, our injury attorneys are able to help victims effectively fight back for the compensation they deserve.