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Side protection may soon become requirement for trucks

A bipartisan proposal for a bill called the Stop Underrides Act of 2017 is making its way through Congress. If passed, it will mandate that all commercial trucks install side underride guards. Drivers in Mississippi may be aware that underrides are a frequent outcome of truck accidents. In 2016, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 295 car occupants were killed in side underride crashes, and 238 died in rear underride crashes.

The bill also calls for an updating of rear underride guard regulations, which were established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration back in 1998. The NHTSA, for its part, published a regulatory proposal to upgrade these same regulations in 2015. The goal was to align U.S. standards with Canadian standards, which are stricter. The agency is waiting for research results from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute before it prepares a report.

In the proposed bill, side and rear guards will be required to withstand a collision from a car traveling 35 mph. The IIHS has been conducting crash tests and has recognized truck manufacturers that are taking steps to strengthen its guards.

However, there are concerns that side guards, which weigh approximately 800 pounds each, will reduce gas mileage and the amount of freight that trucks can haul. Replacement and inspection costs also aggravate the problem.

When a side underride crash occurs because the trucker was negligent, the victim, or the family of the victim if he or she was killed or seriously disabled, may be able to file a truck accident claim with the help of a lawyer. The settlement might be high, and the trucking companies may have their own lawyers who will be aggressive in denying payment. A lawyer may hire accident reconstruction experts and other third parties to establish proof of negligence in an effort to secure a favorable outcome for the victim.

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