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Truck Safety Advocates Step Closer to Goal of Advancing Underride Protection

Contact: Beth Weaver

301.814.4088,/beth_weaver@verizon.net

TRUCK SAFETY ADVOCATES STEP CLOSER TO GOAL OF ADVANCING UNDERRIDE PROTECTION 

NHTSA Issues a Grant of Petition for Rulemaking to Improve the Safety of Rear Impact Guards on Trailers and Single-Unit Trucks – Evaluation of Side and Front Underride Guards Continues

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 10, 2014)—Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a grant of petition for rulemaking to evaluate options for increasing the safety of rear impact guards, or underride guards, on trailers and single-unit trucks. Underride guards are steel bars installed onto the back of truck trailers in order to help prevent passenger vehicles from sliding underneath a truck in the event of a crash. Truck safety advocates have long advocated for an improvement to the rear underride guard standard, as well as requirement for side and front guard protection systems. NHTSA’s decision to begin rulemaking is a victory for truck safety advocates who have been working toward improving the safety of underride guards for decades.

Marianne Karth, a Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) Volunteer, after losing her daughters AnnaLeah and Mary one year ago in an underride truck crash that also injured Marianne and her son, said, “It was a bittersweet moment as I realized full well that these were needed changes that we had advocated for—because we lost AnnaLeah and Mary—and which we hope will save other lives but will never bring them back to us.”

The Karth family’s “AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety” petition gained more than 11,000 supporters seeking to improve underride guard protections, as well as raise minimum insurance level requirements and expedite a final rule for electronic logging devices (ELDs). Marianne and her family members delivered the petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation in May 2014, and are named, along with TSC, in today’s Federal Notice for underride guards. Karth continued, “We are forever grateful to everyone that signed on to the petition, as well as the other TSC volunteers who have been working on this issue throughout the years.”

Jennifer Tierney, Board Member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), TSC North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator, and Member, FMCSA, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) reacted to the notice, “Having advocated for underride protection improvements for over thirty years, I am so grateful that the decision has finally been made to start rulemaking to consider improving the rear guard standard and to evaluate side and front guard protection requirements. Underride crashes have always been particularly devastating to car passengers, and are now even more so as efforts to raise fuel efficiency produce smaller cars, lower to the ground.”

Tierney, a recipient of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) 2014 Highway Safety Hero Award, and whose advocacy began after losing her father, James Mooney, in an underride crash in North Carolina said, “Simple, common sense changes in underride guard requirements, to make them more energy absorbing and lower to the ground, will help to keep our families whole and prevent catastrophic injuries.”

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. NHTSA plans on issuing two separate notices for underride guards. 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.

Roy Crawford, TSC Kentucky Volunteer Coordinator, after his son Guy was killed in an underride crash with a single unit truck twenty years ago said, “As a board certified forensic engineer and a father who lost a son in a underride crash, I have a full understanding of the physical and emotional outcomes from these crashes, and both are completely devastating. I am grateful that NHTSA will move forward to improve underride protections, and I urge them to act expediently to proceed through rulemaking to implementation. Our families’ lives depend on it.”

Nancy Meuleners, TSC Minnesota Volunteer Coordinator, also a recipient of Advocates 2014 Highway Safety Hero Award for nearly 25 years of advocacy after surviving an underride crash said, “I am fortunate to be alive, but it has come at an unnecessary and significant cost. The crash that nearly decapitated me has left me permanently disfigured. After 40 surgeries, I will need more just to maintain my progress.” Meuleners added, “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 do so.”

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