One of the most horrific types of accidents involving semi trucks is the underride crash. This is a collision in which an automobile slides under the rear or side of the truck's trailer. In some cases the roof of the car is sheared off. Occupants of the car often suffer serious head injury or are killed by scalping or decapitation. Louisiana readers may be interested to learn how federal trucking regulations aim to prevent these tragedies.
Underride accidents came to the public's attention in 1967 when movie actress Jayne Mansfield was killed in one after performing at a nightclub in Mississippi. Since then the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required that semi trucks be fitted with underride guards. These consist of horizontal metal bars attached to the rear of the trailer by vertical posts. When properly installed, the horizontal bar should be not more than 560 millimeters -- just under two feet -- above the ground. The guards must be designed to absorb some of the energy of the crash.
The NHTSA is currently evaluating a proposed upgrade of the underride guard rules to provide protection in collisions of up to 35 miles per hour. That is only five mph higher than the current standard, however, and safety advocates say the agency should be doing more. In addition, critics argue that the proposed rules still fail to protect against side underrides. Currently the NHTSA regulations require underride guards only on the rear of semi trailers.
When a loved one is seriously injured or killed in a semi truck crash, the truck owner's compliance with federal safety regulations is often an issue. An experienced personal injury law firm which handles truck accident cases can help a family determine if they have grounds for a lawsuit.
Source: fairwarning.org, "Critics Say Underride Fix Will Do Little to Curb Deadly Hazard," Paul Feldman, June 23, 2016