NHTSA to Mandate Upgrade in Rear Underride Standard

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has initiated a tougher standard for the rear impact guards and other safety devices for single-unit trucks. This would also apply to rear impact guards on trailers and semitrailers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has something to do with the change in safety rules that advocacy groups presented with signatures to promote the improvements in rear impact guards and rear impact protection. The effort was to require stronger underride guards for larger trucks and trailers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was instrumental in pushing for these rule changes. The study was done about three years ago and found that there were many underride fatalities because the passenger car slid under and beneath the truck or its trailer. This would happen even with the current standard of underride guards in place.

The testing included higher speeds, lower speeds and different underride guards that showed that there were regular failures of the underride guards that were in place. The regulations now do not have to meet the 1996 rules for strength of the underride guards. The long and short of it is that the 2010 study found that most underride guards in place on today’s highways and roads are ineffective in preventing serious injuries and deaths from rear impacts by cars and other vehicles with tractor trailers.

Since 1952, the Federal Interstate Commerce Commission required heavy trucks, trailers and semitrailers to be equipped with rear-end protection devices to prevent underrides. But the regulations did not provide any details on the strength of the underride device. The Federal Highway Administration was unsuccessful in 1967 when it tried to require a rear underride law for trucks, buses and trailers. That effort was fought off by the trucking industry.

In 1996, NHTSA published two new rules found in the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards regarding rear impact guards and rear impact protection. Those rules included specified strength requirements for specific trucks and semitrailers as well as a standard for mounting the rear underride guards and the locations of those guards. But there has been nothing done to improve the quality and strength standards for these underride guards since that time.

In a testing that was done by IIHS, the underride standards in place often failed which would lead to the conclusion that the standard needs to be upgraded. Some of the major trailer manufacturers have made improvements to the strength and quality of the underride guards that they have placed on their vehicles but they are doing so voluntary. The movement to strengthen underride guards on trucks and trailers is ongoing. Hopefully these new standards would be put in place soon to prevent the possibility of any future serious injuries or deaths to rear-end collision with trucks and semitrailers.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling automobile accident cases, truck accident cases, semi-trailer accident cases and bus accident cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Glenview, River Grove, Riverside, Summit, Bridgeview, Schaumburg, Schiller Park, Chicago (Beverly, Englewood, Back of the Yards, Canaryville, Bronzeville, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Jackson Park, Rogers Park, Little Italy, Pullman, Lake Calumet, Lincoln Square, Lawndale, Austin, Little Village, Belmont Heights, Jefferson Park), LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Oakbrook Terrace, Clarendon Hills, Country Club Hills, Naperville, Wheaton, Aurora and Countryside, Ill.

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