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Bicyclist Killed by Dump Truck Near Rice University, Need for Side Underride Guard Trucking Regulations Remain

By: Allan M. Siegel

On Tuesday April 24, a female bicyclist was struck and killed by a dump truck near Rice University in Houston. According to authorities, the collision occurred around noon, shortly after the woman finished having lunch with her husband. Both the bicyclist and the dump truck had a green light at the time of the wreck, with the dump truck making a right turn and the bicyclist entering the intersection from the sidewalk.

After entering the intersection, the bicyclist was struck by the rear right end of the truck, suffering fatal injuries. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators questioned and released the driver, who was found to be not under the influence, and are continuing their investigation. Houston authorities report that the incident was the third fatal bicycle accident this month.

Side Underride Guards Can Prevent Injuries & Death in Truck Accidents

The tragedy near Rice is unfortunately not uncommon. Bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists in all types of passenger vehicles frequently suffer some of the most catastrophic injuries, if not death, when involved in accidents with commercial trucks and tractor-trailers. Many of these wrecks, like the one on Tuesday, involve victims who are injured or killed when they collide into the sides of trucks.

As we have discussed on our blog, tragedies like these can be prevented with safety devices known as side underride guards. These safety guards are constructed of reinforced metal and can be positioned on the rears and sides of commercial trucks so as to prevent vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians from being forced, lodged, or crumpled beneath a truck or its trailer – where victims stand little chance of survival.

Take a look at how much damage side underride guards can prevent by viewing this crash test. The video compares a passenger vehicle / truck collision with and without side underride guards.

While current trucking regulations require underride guards to be mounted on the rears of commercial trucks, there are currently no laws in place that make them mandatory on the sides of commercial trucks. That’s despite over 200 deaths resulting from side underride crashes each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and hundreds of other serious injuries. Side underride guards are mandated in many countries outside of the U.S., including throughout Europe, and have been found to substantially decrease fatalities and catastrophic injuries in side-impact trucking collisions.

Support for Mandatory Side Underride Guards

As we see more and more preventable deaths resulting from side underride accidents, the question remains as to why our lawmakers still haven’t passed life-saving regulations. The answer, as it unfortunately often is, has a lot to do with the trucking industry’s prioritization of profits over people, their unwillingness to spend money purchasing and implementing such safety devices, and their relentless efforts to lobby politicians who support their financially motivated agenda.

Earlier this year, we discussed how a bipartisan bill proposed by Senators Marco Rubio and Kirsten Gillibrand was introduced following a tragic side underride accident in Florida that killed four victims. In that wreck, the victims’ vehicle slid underneath a jackknifed tanker truck, causing devastating damage to the car and killing all victims instantly. Amid the continued efforts of trucking lobbyists and an administration that favors deregulation, that bill faces an uphill battle – but families, victims, lawyers who represent them, and other citizens can do their part by spreading awareness about the need for these critical safety devices that have been used with positive results by some U.S. trucking companies and many others across the world for years.

Fighting for Change, Fighting for Justice

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we are passionate about protecting the rights of victims and families harmed in trucking accidents, and are committed to helping them navigate our civil judicial system in order to secure the justice and compensation they deserve. We are also committed to using our insight, experience, and the real connections and stories we have been a part of to promote changes that benefit public safety, and which are so desperately needed.

If you are like us and the millions of other Americans who share public roadways with large commercial trucks and tractor-trailers on a nearly daily basis, we encourage you to spread the word about side underride guards and how they can prevent terrible tragedies. Tell your local city officials, a local congressmen, or your friends and family – you too can be a part of fighting for change.

While we continue our efforts to raise awareness and spark a catalyst for safety changes in the trucking industry, we remain readily available to help trucking accident victims throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia after they have suffered harm and losses in preventable wrecks. Contact us today if you have a potential case to discuss.