The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has conducted what it says are the first tests designed to evaluate the safety benefits of side-mounted underride guards. Federal lawmakers are considering regulations that would make the fitting of rear-mounted underride guards to semi-tractor trailers in Illinois and around the country mandatory, but the IIHS says that side-mounted underride guards could also save lives and should be required as well.
The IIHS tests involved propelling sedans into the sides of two standard van trailers. The IIHS testers fitted one of the trailers with a side-mounted underride guard and the other with a glass fiber skirt. Side skirts are fitted to tractor-trailers to reduce wind buffeting and improve fuel economy, but they do little to protect passenger vehicle occupants in an accident.
When one of the sedans struck the center of the trailer fitted with a side-mounted underride bar, the device worked as designed despite sustaining damage in the crash. While the sedan was badly damaged, it was prevented from continuing underneath the trailer. The occupants of a vehicle in a similar collision would likely have survived according to the IIHS testers. However, the sedan that struck the trailer equipped with a glass fiber skirt came to a rest jammed beneath the trailer. The car’s roof was partially sheared off, and the testers said that the injuries suffered by passenger vehicle occupants in a similar crash would probably be fatal.
Personal injury attorneys with experience in semi-truck accidents lawsuits will likely support any efforts to improve the safety of commercial vehicles. The injuries suffered in collisions with semi-tractor trailers may require months or even years of costly medical treatment, and attorneys pursuing civil remedies on behalf of accident victims who were injured as the result of a truck driver or trucking company negligence may consult with specialists to better understand the long-term health care and financial needs of their clients.