Underride guards are required on the rears of large trucks but not the sides. The NHTSA is considering rule changes that would require quality standards for the rear guards and the installation of side underride guards.
Underride Guard Regulation Updates Considered
In Nevada, semitrucks are required to have rear underride guards, which are meant to prevent vehicles from sliding underneath the trucks. The quality of the materials used to make the guards is not regulated, so as a result, some of them provide little protection. Semitrucks are not required to have side underride guards, so many accidents occur when other vehicles skid under the trucks or the semis come over on top of vehicles in adjacent lanes. Since underride accidents carry a high fatality risk, the NHTSA is considering making updates to existing regulations to improve the quality of the underride guards and mandate the installation of side underride guards.
Recent Conference on Underride Guards
A conference was held at the Vehicle Research Center of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in May 2016 concerning updating underride guard requirements. Participants in the conference included truck companies, government representatives, and safety experts. They all recognized that underride accidents present a high fatality risk but did not agree about how to correct the problem. The IIHS completed a test crash using a 2010 Chevy Malibu that was crashed into the rear of a semitruck with an improved rear underride guard at a speed of 35 mph. The guard prevented the car from going underneath the truck.
Truck Company Concerns
Trucking companies are concerned about new regulations because of the cost. They argue that updating the rear guards would cost thousands of dollars per truck and that adding side guards would add substantial weight. This increased vehicle heaviness would decrease the load sizes that the trucks could haul, which would cut into their profits.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that the upgrades would cost around $2,000. One company stated that it could make the upgrades for as little as $20. A personal injury attorney believes that mandating underride guard improvements and side-guard installations may help to reduce the number of fatalities and is worth the added costs.