As you travel the Alabama highways, you may notice as you cruise along next to a semitruck that the bottom of the trailer is about even with your line of sight. At Wilkins, Bankester, Biles & Wynne, P.A., our legal team recognizes how this height discrepancy puts passenger vehicle occupants at risk of a fatal crash. Lawmakers also recognize this danger and are working to create laws that mandate strong underride guards.
You have seen a rear underride guard: the metal bar hanging below the back end of a tractor-trailer. Transport Topics points out that these underride guards are already mandatory. However, the standards for them are outdated. If you crash into one, there is no guarantee that it will catch the front of your car and trigger the crumple zones and airbags that reduce the risk of severe injuries. A faulty or missing guard allows a car to continue moving under the trailer, shearing off the entire top of the vehicle and typically causing fatal injuries.
During one week-long enforcement event in 2018, inspectors examined 10,000 trailers and discovered that about 900 of them did not meet the already admittedly weak federal standards. The most common violations included missing, cracked or broken guards.
Canada has implemented stronger rear guard standards, and lawmakers in the U.S. want to follow suit. Fortunately, even though there is not yet an update to the law, most truck manufacturers are producing trailers with rear underride guards that meet the Canadian standards. The new law would also require trucks to have underride guards on the sides of trailers.
More information about truck crashes is available on our webpage.