Bipartisan Underride Guard Legislation to Prevent Deadly Crashes Making its Way Through Congress

Last March, we covered the issue of how truck underride guards are still not required by law in the United States despite the National Transportation Safety Administration’s (NTSB) conclusion that they would reduce injuries and deaths on America’s highways. Now, bipartisan legislation is making its way through Congress. The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 was introduced on n December 12, 2017 by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D- N.Y.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) introduced the companion bill in the House.

Underride crashes occur when a car slides underneath the body of a large commercial truck. You might have noticed when you pass a large truck, if you are in a passenger car, the bottom of the cargo container of an 18-wheeler is just about eye-level with a passenger riding in a car. It does not take much of a leap to imagine what might happen in a crash if a passenger vehicle were to slide underneath a large truck when there is nothing there to keep it from happening. Passengers involved in underride crashes can become decapitated. Passengers who survive emerge with massive head and neck injuries even if the crash occurs at lower speeds.

Underride guards, which are already required for the back end of large commercial trucks, are metal and fiberglass buffers that attach to the sides of the truck and deflect the impact of a vehicle instead of allowing it to pass underneath the truck. You can see an underride guard in action at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website.

In the press release about the bill’s introduction, Representative Cohen read the names of just a few of the families who have lost loved ones in truck underride crashes, some of which have tirelessly advocated for this bill which could potentially save lives including, Marianne Karth, Lois Durso, Jennifer Tierney and especially Randy and Laurie Higginbotham.

Marianne Karth, who has dedicated her life to making sure that side underride guards become mandatory in the U.S. was able to share her story: “I am the survivor of a terrible truck crash. I’m the mom of two daughters, AnnaLeah & Mary, who did not survive. The difference? Their part of the car went under the truck; mine did not. When I learned that hundreds of people die each year from underride and that something could have been done to prevent their deaths, I became a mom on a mission to make truck crashes more survivable.”

Jacqueline Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said, “The Stop Underrides Act is a long-overdue solution to a long-standing safety problem. Every year hundreds of people are needlessly killed or severely injured in truck underride crashes. The National Transportation Safety Board has issued multiple recommendations for improved rear underride guards and for side and front underride protection systems. It is now time for action.”

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a truck accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a truck crash, the experienced Ohio and Kentucky commercial truck accident attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law will evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call our attorneys at 877.686.8879, or contact us today to schedule your free consultation at one of our offices in Ohio or Kentucky.