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New Underride Guard Standards Needed to Prevent Deadly Truck Accidents

Imagine your panic if you rear ended a semi truck and your car continued moving forward, underneath the body of the truck. The roof of your car then becomes crushed by the weight of the tractor trailer above. This is called "underride" and it is a scenario truck underride guards are designed to prevent. Unfortunately, a recent study reveals these guards are often inadequate or not being used at all.

The study, by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), reviewed more than 1,000 crashes involving commercial vehicles with and without rear guards between 2001 and 2003. Of the 115 crashes where a passenger vehicle struck the rear of a commercial truck, 78 percent reported the issue of underride. In 23 out of the 28 fatal truck accidents, there was "catastrophic underride damage," indicating the at least the entire front end of the passenger vehicle went under the truck.

Crash tests performed by IIHS demonstrated that even those semi trailers with guards complying with current requirements may fail in low speed collisions.

Adrian Lund, IIHS president, elaborated on the crash test results, "Damage to the cars in some of these tests was so devastating that it's hard to watch the footage without wincing. If these had been real-world crashes there would be no survivors."

Each year it is estimated more than 400 motorists die and over 5,000 are injured as the result of their passenger vehicles hitting the rear of large trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The IIHS has petitioned the federal government to strengthen the standards for underride guards. The agency wants guards to be stronger and required on more types of large trailers and trucks.

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a truck accident involving a missing or deficient underride guard, contact a local personal injury attorney for advice. These cases may require intensive investigation, reenactments and other specialized measures, so a lawyer with experience litigating truck accident cases can provide valuable advice and assistance.

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