Many New Jersey drivers own small cars that cause them and their passengers to ride at eye level with the wheels of the large trucks with which they share the roads and highways. Crashing into the back or side of one of these high-riding trailers invariably results in serious injuries, if not death, for the car’s occupants.
As reported by Forbes, cars that rear-end semis often do not stop at the moment of impact. Instead, they keep going, sliding underneath the trailer while shearing off their roofs and hoods in the process. The car’s occupants, particularly the driver and front seat passenger, are at grave risk for death by decapitation.
A truck underride guard significantly reduces that risk. This device is akin to a second metal bumper hanging from the back or side of a trailer. Its purpose is to prevent a passenger vehicle from sliding under the trailer in the event of a crash.
Crash tests and fatality statistics
CNN notes that crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2012 showed that strong underride guards could reduce the risk of injury to passenger car occupants by as much as 90 percent. According to the IIHS, 1,542 people were killed in car-truck crashes in 2015. Over 300 deaths occurred as the result of a car crashing into the side of a trailer; 292 deaths occurred as the result of a rear-end crash.
Rear underride guards have been federally mandated since 1992; side underride guards, however, are not. Even more troubling, many of today’s rear underride guards are inadequate, often buckling or breaking during a crash. Truck safety advocates continue to call for side underride guard legislation as well as for rear underride guard safety standards to be updated.