On June 29, 1967, Hollywood bombshell Jayne Mansfield performed in a nightclub act in Biloxi, Mississippi. Later that night, she, some of her friends and three of her children piled into a car to head to New Orleans where Mansfield had another engagement the next day. The 34-year-old actress never made it; she and the other adults in the front of the car were killed instantly when the driver rear-ended a tractor-trailer. The high profile death made headlines and prompted the first calls for underride guards on the back and sides of big trucks almost exactly half a century ago.
Thirty years later, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made rear underride guards mandatory and gave the safety mechanism a name: Mansfield bars. However, proponents of underride guards then and now claim that Mansfield bars aren’t enough; trucks need side guards as well to protect against grisly accidents with gruesome results. Most passenger cars strike trailers at almost exactly head height, and underride incursions often shear off the top of these smaller vehicles with devastating consequences.
Why we still don’t have side guards
From NBC News, “Side guards are still not required, even though the NTSB, which investigates accidents, concluded that they would reduce injuries and deaths on America’s roads. It issued a non-binding recommendation to the NHTSA in April 2014 that all new trailers have side protection systems. The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, the industry’s lobbying arm, has opposed a side guard requirement for years. It referred NBC News to a 2014 letter to the NHTSA that cited the added cost, technical challenges and concern that the guards could weaken parts of a trailer or dangerously increase their weight.”
As usual, a lobbyist group is arguing points that simply don’t hold water. There is no technological or materials barrier to side underride guards; there is simply a price of implementation. Just like product formulations and drug costs, Europe is ahead of the game. Commercial trucks across the pond have rear and side underride guards; bridges aren’t collapsing under the increased weight, nor has there been a rash of trailer collapses from weakened frames. Instead, a valuable safety feature is preventing deaths from underride incursions.
More than 200 people die and many more are seriously injured each year in the US from underride truck accidents. These deaths and injuries are not pretty, and they are largely preventable. Unfortunately, until bureaucracy catches up with common sense, families will continue to suffer the consequences of commercial truck accidents that leave victims maimed or dead. If your loved one was injured or killed in a commercial truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. The experienced Ohio and Kentucky commercial truck accident attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call our Kentucky legal team at 877.651.7764, our Ohio legal team at 877.686.8879, or contact us today.