Congress passed a bill that mandated comprehensive under ride protection for tractor-trailers and single unit trucks. Jayne Mansfield died when she drove underneath a tractor-trailer. This past July, two cars skidded under a jackknifed milk tanker truck in northern New York killing four people. U.S. Senator, Charles Schumer called on Federal Regulators to order big trucks to be equipped with side guards that would prevent cars from sliding beneath them in a crash. Senator Schumer stated “the devastation of crashes like these as a result of a gap in truck safety standard could be reduced”.
In an article entitled “deadly crashes spur calls for tractor-trailer side guards” by Mary Esch in The Journal News points out that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 301 of the 1542 car occupants killed in collision with a tractor-trailer in 2015 died when their vehicle struck the side of a tractor-trailers. Another 292 died when their vehicle struck the rear. The Institute’s researchers estimated that half of the fatal crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles involve the under ride, which makes air bags and other crash protection ineffective because the top of the car is sheared off. Side guards are not required by Federal Regulations but at least 3 cities – Boston, New York & Seattle mandate side guards on city owned trucks to eliminate deaths and injuries, particularly pedestrians and bicyclists.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states side guards could prevent hundreds of deaths per year in the U.S. The Institute crashed a car into a trailer equipped with a side guard called AngelWing, a steel rail covered with fiberglass. The car’s front end crumpled but the test dummy was protected by airbags and seatbelts. Without the side guards, the passenger compartment was sheared off causing devastating head injuries to the dummy. A couple who lost a 26 year old daughter in a side under ride crash in Indiana in 2004 have been working together to lobby Congress and The Department of Transportation for a side guard requirement as well as stronger rear guards. The parents said Congress talked about under ride protection since 1969.