By: Allan M. Siegel
Makers of modern 18-wheelers and other large trucks are not doing enough
to prevent a particularly deadly, but preventable, form of accidents.
That was the conclusion reached at the Insurance Institute for Highway
Safety’s Vehicle Research Center conference on “underride”
crashes held last week in Virginia. Almost 90 policymakers, trucking industry
representatives, researchers, and safety advocates assembled to discuss
the serious safety issue of large truck underride crashes.
underride crash is when a vehicle goes partly or entirely under a large truck, which increases
the chances of a catastrophic injury or death to the occupants of the
vehicle. Between 200 and 400 vehicle occupants are killed annually from
underride accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Underride accidents
can also affect bicyclists and pedestrians.
Marianne Karth, who lost her two teenage daughters in an underride crash
in 2013, participated in last week’s safety conference.
"Our hope was that we could bring together people from a variety of
organizations and companies that have the power and authority to do something
to address the problem and get them communicating and figure out where
to go from here," Karth said. "There's more work to do.
I hope that everybody here will take it to heart to move heaven and earth
to make the best possible protection to prevent underride crashes."
In order to reduce these dangerous accidents, federal regulations require
semitrailers to have steel bars that hang from the back of the truck.
These bars are designed to inhibit other vehicles going underneath large
truck. New regulations pending with NHTSA will require an upgraded version
of these bars to increase protection against underride crashes.
“A key component of DOT’s safety mission is ensuring that trucking,
an essential element in our transportation system, operates not just efficiently,
but safely,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in
a statement announcing the upgraded rear bar requirement.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our attorneys sadly
appreciate the danger posed by 18-wheelers and large semitrailers on highways
in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Our team of personal injury
attorneys have represented survivors of underride crashes and those who
have tragically lost family members in underride
truck accidents. Our law firm continues to monitor legal and regulatory developments associated
with underride accidents and supports the passage and implementation of
measures that help keep drivers safe from unreasonable, avoidable risks.