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New bill may protect drivers from side underride crashes

Drivers in West Virginia should be aware that truck accidents are some of the most fatal for car occupants. One type of accident that occurs frequently is the side underride crash, where a car collides into the side of a truck and slides underneath it; in many cases, the roof is crushed and the occupants decapitated. 200 people in America die every year inside underride crashes.

In response to this, Congress has proposed a bill that would make side underride guards mandatory on all commercial trucks. The Stop Underrides Act of 2017, a bipartisan legislation, was sent to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for consideration. If it is passed, Congress may direct the Department of Transportation to issue the appropriate regulations or leave it to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Back in 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board had recommended that the NHTSA issue a regulation that all new trailers should have side protection systems, but the recommendation was not binding. The NHTSA has, however, completed a research project that began in 2016; it is currently preparing a report on its findings.

The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, considered the lobbying arm of the trucking industry, has spoken out against the proposed bill. It states that side guards will increase costs and weaken parts of the truck with its added weight.

A side underride crash can lead to catastrophic injuries to the head and spine. In such cases, filing a truck accident claim can lead to a potentially large settlement, so it might be wise to hire a lawyer. An attorney may be able to work with the victim or with the family and bring in investigators to find proof of the truck driver's negligence.

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