Strengthen Rear Underride Guards

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States

Strengthen Rear Underride Guards

Rear/ Side Underride and Front Override Guards

The federal government should require all trucks and trailers to be equipped with energy-absorbing rear, side, and front underride guards to protect car occupants from underride crashes. These crashes can be catastrophic because the car rides under the trailer, bypassing the crumple zone and airbag deployment sensors; in severe collisions, passenger compartment intrusion occurs. The safety benefits of underride guards are proven and well known. In fact, five of the eight leading trailer manufacturers have developed rear underride guards that qualify for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) ToughGuard rating, which greatly exceeds the proposed federal standard by preventing underride crashes at 100, 50, and 30 percent overlaps at 35 mph.

For several years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued multiple recommendations for improved rear underride guards, for side underride protection systems, and front underride guards. In addition, NTSB identified the need for improved data collection, including vehicle identification numbers to better evaluate trailer design and the impact on safety.

On July 10, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it would grant the petition brought by Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) and the Karth family to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for rear underride guards on trailers. Additionally, NHTSA has started an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for rear guards for single unit trucks, and will continue to evaluate side and front guards.

Rear Underride Crashes:

NHTSA reported that large truck rear impacts comprised 22 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2015. IIHS crash tests demonstrated that the rear underride guards mandated for trailers by NHTSA in 1998 performed poorly, and that there are available underride guards that far exceed the proposed force requirement by up to 70 percent.

Rear Underride Crash Tests – IIHS ToughGuard Winners:






Truck Underride Roundtable


Electronic Stability Control

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) seeks to reduce crashes by applying selective braking to prevent rollovers and mitigate loss of control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that ESC on large trucks would prevent 40 – 56 percent of rollovers and 14 percent of loss of control crashes. The agency also estimates that the ESC final rule has the potential to prevent 49- 60 fatalities, 649- 858 injuries, and 1,807- 2,329 crashes annually. The final rule takes effect in December 2017, and all trucks manufactured after December 2019 will be required to have ESC. TSC supports the full implementation of the life-saving technology.

Link to Federal Register:

Automatic Emergency Braking

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) technology is a proven highway safety technology that could and will save countless lives and prevent injuries.  Unfortunately, after years of study and successful use by leading motor carriers, this technology has yet to be required for commercial motor vehicles.  As the public endures continued delays to require equipment that is readily available, families across the nation have had to pay the ultimate price.

In order to prevent these needless deaths and injuries, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should mandate AEB technology on all large trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more. While the agency granted the petition submitted on February 19, 2015 by the Truck Safety Coalition, Road Safe America, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Center for Auto Safety this past October, action is long overdue and we call on NHTSA to produce a final rule.

On average, each year, 4,000 people are killed and another 100,000 more are injured in truck crashes. Sadly, these losses are mounting, which is why it is so important for the government to take action. Each year an AEB Final Rule is delayed, more Americans will be killed in large truck crashes.

NHTSA estimates that current generation AEB systems can prevent more than 2,500 crashes each year and that future generation systems could prevent more than 6,300 crashes annually. Every year a full implementation of AEB is delayed, research estimates that 166 people will unnecessarily die and another 8,000 individuals will suffer serious injuries.

To save these lives, prevent injuries, reduce costs, and ensure families remain whole, we call on Congress to immediately mandate AEB technology in all large trucks.

Crash Avoidance Technologies Fact Sheet


ARLINGTON, VA (May 10, 2017) – The Truck Safety Coalition’s Underride Initiative, consisting of families of truck underride crash victims and survivors, is extremely pleased with the results of a recent crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that assessed a side underride guard for the first time ever.

The IIHS conducted two tests of a midsize car traveling at 35 mph colliding with the center of a 53-foot-long dry van at a 90-degree angle – the most difficult type of side underride collision to prevent. In one scenario, the trailer was equipped with a fiberglass side skirt intended (only) to improve aerodynamics, which did nothing to prevent the car from riding underneath the trailer. The car was decimated, the roof sheared, and any passengers would have been killed.

In the other scenario, the trailer was equipped with an AngelWing Side Underride protection device –manufactured by Airflow Deflector Inc. Instead of riding under the trailer and allowing for passenger compartment intrusion, this innovative side underride guard allowed the car’s airbags to deploy and its crumple zone to help diffuse the kinetic energy transferred upon impact. These safety features have been rendered ineffective in the past due to the lack of crash compatibility between cars and the sides of trailers.


With more than 2,000 passenger vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes in which the passenger vehicle strikes side of the tractor-trailer between 2009 and 2015, there is a clear need to address this fatal problem. It should also be noted that the aforementioned fatality figure greatly underestimates the true extent of people killed in side underride crashes as it does not include crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians, multi-vehicle crashes, and any crash that happened in a jurisdiction that does not record whether underride occurred.

At a time when truck crash injuries and deaths continue to climb, up 57 percent and 20 percent respectively between 2009 and 2015, the industry and regulators should share our sense of urgency to reverse these trends. We need more innovation, action, and collaboration.

When we do work together, like at the first ever Truck Underride Roundtable, we can make real advances in truck safety. In fact, that meeting of industry leaders, government officials, and safety advocates helped lead to the creation of this side underride guard that successfully prevented a side underride crash at 35 mph.

This side underride guard would have made a big difference in many of our lives, and we are proud that our advocacy will help prevent others from sustaining a major injury or losing a loved one in a side underride crash. We call on our Members of Congress and federal regulators to ensure that this technology is fully adopted by the trucking industry by requiring all trailers to be equipped with side underride guards.


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Harlingen woman [Debra Cruz] tries to make difference for truck safety

By LISA SEISER Editor | Posted: Tuesday, May 9, 2017 8:56 pm

HARLINGEN — Nine years ago, her life changed. An accident with an 18-wheeler while on her way home left Debra Cruz permanently disabled.

At that time, nobody thought she would now be telling her story to politicians and their staffs on Capitol Hill as part of the “Sorrow to Strength” event held by the Trucking Safety Coalition.

Cruz recently returned after several days in Washington D.C. where she had a one-on-one discussion with Congressman Filemon Vela and was able to meet with the staff of Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz.

“Their jaws just dropped when I told them my story,” Cruz said.

She talked about issues regarding truckers, including sleep deprivation, drug and alcohol use and proper testing and licensing.

Debra said the people she met with were very interested in her story.

Harry Adler, public affairs manager at the Truck Safety Coalition, said Vela was engaged during the 20-minute discussion with Debra.

“You could see it in his eyes,” Debra said about Vela as she explained what happened to her.

Adler said the discussions can result in new laws and efforts to improve safety.

“He was very interested in submitting something,” Debra said about a possible bill.

Adler said Vela appeared to be interested in backing and supporting any bills coming forward that would improve truck safety.

“To hear from one of his constituents about their story is what will motivate him to do something,” Adler said. “He was moved by Debra’s experience.”

Debra was among about 60 to 70 families from about 20 different states who attended the event aimed at making lawmakers aware of changes that could be made to the industry to make it safer.

Many of those who attended were family members of those killed in truck accidents.

Debra also was able to see and briefly talk with Ted Cruz for a few minutes, even grab a picture with him.

Adler said she was disappointed Cruz was not in their meeting, but as they were leaving, he happened to be coming around the corner.

Debra and Cruz were able to speak for a few minutes about her story and then take a picture together.

Overall, while she wasn’t able to speak to all the lawmakers in person, Debra said the visit went well.

It was her second time in Washington. The Truck Safety Coalition paid for her trip and organized the meetings.

“It went really well,” she said.

Sorrow to Strength 2017 Press Page

Press Release:


TSC Report:

Truck Crash Fatality Rate per Million – Infographic


Fact Sheets:

Statements and Letters:

Truck Safety Award Recipients