Bipartisanship Legislation Seeks to Protect Drivers from Deadly Underride Accidents
In early March, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN-9) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) reintroduced the Stop Underrides Act.
Underride accidents kill hundreds of drivers every year. Tragically, many of these accidents could have been prevented with a few simple safety features. The Stop Underrides Act, a piece of legislation with heavy bipartisan support, would strengthen safety measures to prevent deadly underride accidents involving tractor-trailers and straight trucks.
What is an underride accident?
An underride accident is a crash in which a passenger vehicle collides with a truck and slides underneath the body of the truck. Because the first part of the car that comes into contact with the body of the truck is the windshield, underride crashes are extremely dangerous for the car’s occupants. These types of accidents lead to catastrophic injuries to the upper body and often result in death.
Underride accidents effectively render the car’s safety features useless. Large trucks have been federally required to equip underride guards (large metal bars that aim to prevent vehicles from sliding underneath) since 1953. However, there are no requirements in place to adequately maintain proper rear underride guards.
Furthermore, underride guards placed on the sides and fronts of trucks are not federally required at this time. Nobody should have to worry about suffering in a fatal underride accident, which is where the Stop Underrides Act comes into play.
How many deaths have been caused by underride accidents?
Thousands of people die every year in accidents involving large trucks. Hundreds of these deaths could have been prevented if there were stronger federal requirements in place to prevent underride accidents.
According to truck fatality data compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 6,000 people died as a
result of underride accidents between 1994 and 2018.
Despite these tragic deaths, Congress has failed to implement stronger legislation around underride requirements, ignoring urging from
constituents and safety advocates.
How would the Stop Underrides Act keep drivers safe?
The Stop Underrides Act would require the Department of Transportation (DoT) to issue the following regulations:
- Strengthen the requirements for rear underride guards, add an underride guard to single-unit trucks, and ensure these standards are based on crash testing data.
- Require all trailers, semi-trailers, and single-unit trucks to equip side underride guards.
- Require all trailers, semi-trailers, and single-unit trucks to equip front underride guards.
Additionally, the bill would include underride guard inspection as a component of annual inspections. It would also require the DoT to periodically review underride standards as technology advances.
Manufacturers, road inspectors, motor vehicle engineers and technicians, traffic safety organization representatives, auto insurance industry representatives, law enforcement crash investigators, and members of families impacted by underride accidents would all be represented on a committee that would monitor underride guard rulemaking processes.
Lastly, the bill would require the DoT to publish quarterly data to monitor and analyze deaths caused by underride crashes.
Several highway safety groups, including the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), Institute for Safer Trucking, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety, Stop Underrides, and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) have endorsed the Stop Underrides Act.
Langdon & Emison supports victims of underride accidents
The tractor-trailer and semi-truck accident lawyers at Langdon & Emison are all too aware of the devastating consequences of an underride truck accident. We’ve helped countless victims and their families recover millions of dollars in damages following trucking accidents.
Not only are we committed to protecting the rights of victims, but also fiercely believe in advocating for driver safety. If you have questions or need to speak with a lawyer regarding a truck accident case, contact us today at 800.397.4910. We look forward to assisting you.