Tests conducted by a nonprofit safety organization indicate that lives could be saved in West Virginia and around the country if semi-tractor trailer operators were required to install side-mounted underride guards on their vehicles. Lawmakers are considering adopting regulations that would mandate the installation of rear-mounted underride guards on large trucks, but the IIHS test results indicate that side-mounted guards offer the same kind of safety benefits.
IIHS testers propelled midsized sedans into the sides of two 53-foot van trailers at 35 mph. One of the trailers was equipped with side-mounted underride guards, and the other was fitted with a glass fiber skirt that is designed to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency but provides passenger vehicle occupants with little in the way of protection in a crash. The tests mark the first time that the safety benefits of side-mounted underride guards have been evaluated according to the IIHS.
The sedan struck the center of the trailer in both tests. The force of the impact was powerful enough to bend the underride guard, but the device did its job and prevented the vehicle from sliding under the trailer. However, the roof of the sedan was sheared off when it struck the side of the trailer fitted with a glass fiber skirt. The car eventually came to a stop wedged underneath the trailer. IIHP testers said that a similar crash would likely result in fatalities.
Any efforts to make large commercial trucks safer will likely be supported by experienced personal injury attorneys. Attorneys who have litigated truck accident lawsuits may know that these crashes often cause catastrophic and life-changing injuries, and they could take particular care when calculating the damages in these cases to ensure that their clients will be prepared to meet the long-term costs of their medical treatment and physical therapy.