Semi-tractor trailers in Mississippi and around the country should be fitted with side-mounted underride guards according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Federal lawmakers are considering regulations that would require truck operators to fit underride guards to the rear of their trailers, but the IIHS says that mounting safety guards to the sides of trailers would likely save many lives as well. The Virginia-based nonprofit organization came to this conclusion after testing the devices to see how well they protect passenger vehicle occupants in a crash.
The IIHS testers used two standard 53-foot van trailers for their tests. However, only one of the trailers was fitted with a side-mounted underride guard. The testers fitted a glass fiber side skirt to the second trailer. These skirts are used by truck operators to save fuel and improve stability at highway speeds, but they are not designed to protect vehicle occupants in an accident. To test the two configurations, the testers propelled sedans into the sides of the trailers at 35 mph.
The tests clearly show that properly installed side-mounted underride guards can prevent cars from going underneath van trailers in T-bone collisions. The testers said that passenger vehicle occupants would likely survive such a crash. However, the glass fiber skirt offered virtually no protection. The sedan came to a rest jammed beneath the second trailer with a large part of its roof sheared off. The testers said that passenger vehicle occupants in a similar accident would likely be killed.
Personal injury attorneys with experience in vehicle collision cases will likely support efforts to make side-mounted underride guards mandatory equipment on semi-tractor trailers. Side-impact accident victims often suffer serious head and neck injuries that can take years to heal fully, and attorneys may consult with specialists to more fully understand their long-term needs before pursuing civil remedies on their behalf if it can be shown that the accident was caused by the negligence of another motorist.