U.S. Safety Standards for Rear Guards Are Terrible

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has stated that passengers in cars may be decapitated if their vehicles go under the rear of heavy-duty trailer trucks with guards — even if the vehicles meet U.S. rules designed to prevent severe injuries.

I have handled these decapitation cases before, and they are truly horrendous.

I believe the tests show stronger rules are needed. The Institute has also recently said that trailers made to Canadian specifications were less likely to cause catastrophic injuries.

According to NHTSA data, 419 car occupants were killed in 2007 and 352 in 2008 in crashes involving passenger vehicles striking the rear of large trucks.
Almost 80 percent of crashes involving cars rear-ending trucks involved significant amounts of underride, even after NHTSA required stronger structures to be lowered to 22 inches off the ground.

NHTSA doesn’t require the guards to be tested on trailers themselves, which has led to weaknesses: guards can fail if hardware attaching them to the trailer isn’t strong enough to withstand impact. The tests underscore that guards installed to U.S. standards aren’t holding up out in the real world.

NHTSA expects to complete its review of the regulation in 2012.

Canadian regulators require stronger crash guards. However trailers made by a corporation based in Lafayette, Indiana are engineered to exceed the Canadian requirements.

I feel very strongly that the U.S. standards for these guards are far too low and hope they are strengthened immediately.

Please call if you have been involved in an 18-wheeler wreck; I fight these trucking companies to get you the financial recovery that you deserve.

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