Home Page  |  703-294-6404  |  Email Us

Industry Makes Improvements While Rule for Better Underride Languishes


IIHS Report Shows Trailer Manufacturer Improved Rear Underride Guard Design

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 9, 2014) – Today, the  Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)  released a new report showing improvements in underride guard safety adopted by a trailer manufacturer in advance of rulemaking. Less than three months after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a grant of petition for rulemaking to evaluate options for increasing the safety of underride guards, on trailers and single-unit trucks, the IIHS report states trailer manufacturers are making underride guard improvements and are expected to ask for retesting, while NHTSA continues to work on a new standard. Truck safety advocates are heartened by the industry’s initiative, noting that further improvements should be made to ensure that all manufacturers’ rear underride guards pass the 30 percent overlap test. To date, IIHS reports this test has been passed by only one trailer manufacturer, Manac.

Marianne Karth, a Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) Volunteer, whose “AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety” petition helped to spur NHTSA’s decision to begin underride guard rulemaking said, “All trailers should have underride guards that withstand the 30 percent overlap test. We should not settle for less when safer guards are known and available.”  Karth and her family started their petition that gained over 11,000 supporters after losing daughters AnnaLeah and Mary, in May 2013, in an underride truck crash that also injured Marianne and her son.

“I am glad that advances are being made by the industry. Having advocated for better underride guards for over thirty years, I can personally testify that it takes far too long to produce a requirement for lifesaving safety improvements,” said Jennifer Tierney, Board Member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator, and Member, FMCSA, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), after losing her father in an underride crash.

During 2011, NHTSA reported that large truck rear impacts comprised 19 percent of the fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles, and that large truck side impacts comprised 15 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles. On July 10, 2014, NHTSA announced plans to issue two separate notices for underride guards that have not yet been fulfilled. One is an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on single-unit trucks and the other is a notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on trailers and semitrailers. NHTSA also indicated that they will research front and side guards for rulemaking.

Tierney added, “In addition to rear underride, the IIHS report notes that 63 percent of fatal truck crashes involve the front of the truck, and that in Europe, front underride guards (also called front override guards) have been required since 1994. It’s past time for us to address improvements to all types of underride including front, side and rear.”

Nancy Meuleners, TSC Minnesota Volunteer Coordinator, barely survived an underride crash that left her permanently disfigured. Meuleners, who has worked to advance underride guard safety for decades said, “NHTSA has the power to greatly reduce the needless loss and suffering that result from underride crashes, and I hope that they will act quickly to start rulemaking. I am glad that individual manufacturers are making improvements, but we really need a new underride guard rule, as well as side and front guard rules, to set a higher standard across the industry.”

The Truck Safety Coalition (www.trucksafety.org), a partnership between the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.