In 2004, the night before Thanksgiving, Marco Island resident Lois Durso lost her daughter Roya in a tragic accident. Roya was driving in a snowstorm when her car skidded out of control and slid under the side of a tractor-trailer. She was killed instantly.
These types of truck accidents—underride crashes—are one of the most deadly types of accidents on the road. When a passenger car slides or skids underneath a tractor-trailer, the top of the vehicle is typically sheared off, with fatal results. Between 1994 and 2014, about 4,000 people have lost their lives in underride crashes.
This past December, Congress proposed a bill to prevent more tragedies in Florida and across the country. Senators Marco Rubio, R-FL and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, with families of accident victims by their sides, introduced the bipartisan bill “Stop Underrides Act of 2017.” This legislation would require trucks to be equipped with side underride guards and strengthen existing rear underride guards.
What are underride guards?
An underride guard is a safety device that covers the gap between the undercarriage of a tractor-trailer and the road. If there’s an accident between a car and a truck, the guards can prevent the car from sliding or skidding underneath the truck, in an effort to prevent the kind of tragedy that has happened so many times in the past.
Although 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers have been required to have rear underride guard safety features since 1998, side underride guards are still not mandatory. The National Transportation Safety Board made a recommendation for use of side guards to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2014, but it was not a mandate. As of now, the trucking industry has been hesitant to implement these guards for a variety of reasons, including:
- Safety concerns with the extra weight added to the trailer
- Cost of implementation
- Reduced fuel mileage from extra weight
- Reduced cargo load from extra weight
- Problems with navigating into tight docks
Regarding cost of implementation and weight, for example, one manufacturer’s panels weigh 800 pounds apiece and cost between three and four thousand dollars.
The NHTSA is waiting on research results from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute on side underride protection on trailers. When the report is released, the agency will likely release their own assessment.
If you were injured in a truck accident, contact the attorneys at Yeboah Law Group. Accidents with tractor-trailers can be catastrophic, and it’s important you receive full compensation for your injuries. We can help. Contact our Fort Lauderdale lawyers at 1-800-TELL-SAM, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.