Increasing attention is being paid to a particular type of trucking accident that is occurring more and more often. Called an “under ride collision”, these accidents occur when a standard sized passenger vehicle strikes a semi-truck and drives or is pulled underneath it. These accidents occur frequently because the typical family vehicle is usually much lower than a semi-truck’s frame, particularly with the downward sloping hoods common to most vehicles. The danger here is that even when the truck driver is not at fault for the accident, under ride collisions can still quickly turn fatal for the drivers of the smaller cars involved.
The rise in these types of collisions has been so rapid that the issue has draw the attention of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS. The non-profit review organization exists to examine and comment on pressing highway safety issues of concern to all citizens, government officials, and insurance companies alike. In short, the IIHS insists that current safety equipment standards for semi-trucks need serious review and updating.
Currently, semi-trucks must have an under ride bar across the back of the truck. It extends below the truck and is intended to keep vehicles approaching from the rear from under riding into the truck’s wheels. However in multiple recent accidents, the bars have not worked. The IIHS has asserted that the reason for this is that the standards determining where to place the under ride guards are too loose. They are advocating a much higher standard of where to place the guards, something more akin to the more restrictive and comprehensive European standards.
“Underride guards are meant to keep the vehicles that strike the truck from going underneath, but they’re not doing that,” says IIHS President Adrian Lund. “These are horrendous crashes and they happen at speeds where we know we can protect people.”