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350 Killed Each Year in Avoidable Underride Truck Accidents

An underride accident refers to a collision between a car and the rear of a tractor-trailer truck. The car slides under the trailer, and is almost always fatal for the passengers in the front seat of the car. Safety protections are supposed to be in place to prevent underride truck accidents, but recent tests showed that the standards are not nearly strong enough.

Even without the recent tests, it has to be noted that 350 people die in the U.S. every year from underride accidents. Safety advocates say that these deaths are entirely avoidable.

Trucks in the U.S. are fitted with rear impact guards that are supposed to stop cars and prevent them from sliding underneath a truck. These were recently tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In the tests, a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu was crashed into a parked 18-wheeler trailer.

Crashes with rear guards that met U.S. standards resulted in the failure of the rear guards and in the cars sliding right under the trailers. Front-seat passengers in an actual crash would have been killed.

The tests were conducted at low speeds: only 35 miles per hour, nothing even approaching actual highway speeds.

Miami car accident attorneys know that stronger standards would save lives. Canadian regulations require rear impact barriers 75% stronger than those in the U.S. When IIHS tested underride guards of this strength, the guards held up properly and the cars did not slide under the trailers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation, recently issued a statement saying that "it is well aware of the scope and severity of the truck underride issue." The agency says it is actively working to address the problem.

That is good news, except that the last time standards for rear guards were raised, the process took 20 years.

Source: ABC "Truck Underride Accidents: Drivers Endangered When Cars Slide Under Trailersundefined" 3/1/2011


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