The laws are not tough enough, so say safety advocates with the goal of eliminating large-truck underride collisions that kill hundreds each year and seriously injure thousands more. Still, the trucking industry has attempted to ward off any new legislation that addresses this issue. This time is no different.
In March, federal lawmakers introduced the Stop Underrides Act, the third time such legislation has seen light of day. The law would require big-rig trucks fresh from the assembly line to be installed with front and side metal underride guards designed to prevent other smaller vehicles from skidding or sliding underneath of them. The proposed legislation also would make safety improvements on rear underride guards, already required by law.
Hundreds die each year
The result of an underride collision is unforgettable. Oftentimes, the top of a vehicle is sheered off, leading to catastrophic or often fatal injuries to the driver and passengers. Decapitation, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries are not uncommon.
According to a 2019 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an average of 219 people were killed in underride collisions from 2008 to 2017. However, the GAO noted that that number may be too low due to the different ways states and municipalities collect data regarding underride collisions.
Trucking industry against the effort
In order to get the Stop Underrides Act legislation introduced again, victims’ families and safety advocates made specific concessions. The primary concession is that the law only applies to new trucks. The proposed bill does not apply to the millions of large trucks already on U.S. roads.
The trucking industry has long fought such legislation. This action only makes the average person scratch his or her head in bewilderment. That powerful industry continues to contend that legislation like the Stop Underrides Act would only prove ineffective as well as increase costs for trucking companies.
Will the law get passed this time around? Safety advocates believe that it has a good chance. If only the trucking industry understood how much heartbreak has been caused by a horrific underrides collision.