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.
Side Underride Crashes:
NHTSA has reported that large truck side impacts comprised 17 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2015. One reason why collisions with the sides of tractor-trailers are hazardous is that there is a large area of the trailer where underride may occur during these collisions. In addition, bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to side underride interactions because of their size and the lack of protection. As the length of a truck increases, so does the size of the blind spot area. These interactions can occur when a truck is turning or making an illegal U-turn, and the cab or trailer obstructs the driver’s view.
Side Underride Crash Test:
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.