The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has introduced new truck safety rules that could decrease the number of fatal rear-end collisions on the nation’s highways.
If enacted, the new regulations would require trucking companies to install more robust underride guards to the backs of tractor trailers and box trucks. An underride guard, as you may know, is the red and white steel bar attached to the back of a trailer to prevent a car or small SUV from moving underneath the truck in the event of a rear-end collision.
Underride guards are a crucial safety component that can prevent fatal injuries from occurring. Without underride guards, when a car or small SUV rear-ends a tractor trailer it could slide under the trailer and crush the vehicle’s occupant compartment, causing fatal or life-threatening head and neck injuries.
The NHTSA first recommended that trucking companies install underride guards in the 1960’s, after actress Jayne Mansfield was killed when the car she was travelling in rear-ended a tractor trailer. Three of the six passengers in the car died, including Jayne Mansfield.
The proposed rule would require trailer and semitrailer guards to be strong enough to prevent “passenger compartment intrusion” in crashes where the car is travelling 35 miles per hour at the time of impact. The current regulations only require underride guards to work at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. The proposed rule would adopt the same underride guard requirements that are currently in place in Canada.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx offered strong praise for the proposed rule. According to Secretary Foxx, “A key component of DOT’s safety mission is ensuring that trucking, an essential element in our transportation system, operate not just efficiently, but safely. Today’s proposal is another important step in that effort.”
In addition, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind noted that, “robust trailer rear impact guards can significantly reduce the risk of death or injury to vehicle occupants in the event of a crash into the rear of a trailer or semitrailer,” and “we’re always looking at ways to safeguard the motoring public, and today’s announcement moves us forward in our mission.”
“When we have a cost-effective solution that can reduce the risk of death or injury to passenger vehicle occupants in the event of a crash into the rear of a trailer or semitrailer, our commitment to safety obligates us to propose it,” wrote Mr. Rosekind on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s blog, Fast Lane.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a collision with a truck, our New Jersey truck accident attorneys can advise you of your legal rights and options. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced truck accident attorney, contact us today.