Tractor-Trailer Guards Make Trucks Safer, but Still Deadly | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

A new crash test has shown that United States federal regulators may not be doing enough to prevent commercial truck accident injuries and fatalities. 

According to Business Week, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that seven out of eight truck companies failed a stricter crash test that involved vehicles colliding with tractor-trailers in a glancing blow instead of directly. In these instances, the guards underneath the trucks (which are required by the federal government) failed, resulting in what would be extremely serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Researchers and safety advocates who reviewed the results of the crash test believe that stricter regulations involving the crash guards would save lives. 

The one trucking company that passed the crash test was Manac, Inc., of Quebec, Canada. In Canada, the government has stricter trucking regulations in place that require a different type of guard. The guard that protects drivers against glancing blows—which simply has guard supports that are spread wider—costs about $20 more than the guards currently required. 

Just over ten percent of fatal commercial truck accidents in the United States in 2011 involved a car running into the back of the trailer—a crash that can be especially deadly because the passenger vehicle becomes wedged under the carriage of the trailer. These so-called underride accidents could be more preventable with better guards and with better driver education. 

While traffic accident injuries and fatalities have been declining around the country in recent years, federal regulators and safety experts have struggled to lower the number of fatalities and injuries associated with car-truck collisions on highways and interstates. 

At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharpwe hope these new findings further the efforts to make our nation’s highways much safer.