In what could be the most politically divisive time in the history of the United States, a bipartisan bill has been introduced that addresses truck accident safety and has party support from both sides of the aisle. California Congressman Mark DeSaulnier joined together with three other representatives to introduce the bill in both the House and the Senate called the ‘Stop Underrides Act.’ In a March 5th press release, DeSaulnier stated that at least 300 people die every year in underride crashes, which are among the deadliest types of accidents that occur on the road.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who also introduced the bill stated that ‘Congress has the ability to make simple and common-sense changes that would save lives on the road,’ and truck crash attorneys could not agree more. When there is a simple way to save hundreds of lives each year, our legislators and others responsible for the regulation of commercial trucks have a duty to enforce these required safety measures.
Underride accidents occur when a car and a large truck collide with such significant force that the car is pushed underneath the truck, typically the trailer of a tractor-trailer. Injuries are often fatal in these accidents that cause significant head and neck trauma including decapitations. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety determined that side underride guards would reduce injury risk by approximately 75% inside trailer accidents.
The full context of the bill has not been released, but it is understood that the bill would require underride guards on the sides and front of large trucks. Right now, underride guards are only required on the back of trucks. The bill also calls for an update on the standards for rear underride guards. Furthermore, the Department of Transportation would be required to review underride standards every five years. Organizations that have come out in support of the bill include the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Consumer Reports, the National Safety Council Road to Zero Coalition, the Truck Safety Coalition, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
Several organizations have opposed additional underride requirements now and when they have been introduced in the past including the American Trucking Association which stated that the government should focus on crash avoidance technologies and strategies instead of expensive mitigation equipment. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is also opposed to the bill stating that the standard proposed by the bill goes overboard and would be cost-prohibitive for truck fleets. The wear and tear on trucks caused by the additional guards and the additional weight they would add to trucks are other issues raised by opposition organizations.
Truck accidents are especially perilous motor vehicle accidents that result in many serious injuries and deaths each year. If you or a loved one has sustained serious injuries in a commercial truck accident, contact an attorney at the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg to discuss your claim and the extent of injuries sustained.