Collisions between tractor-trailer trucks and smaller vehicles can be devastating. This is even more so when safety features of trailers are found to be faulty. A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that a key safety feature on the back of trailers, under-ride guards, is not functioning as it should.
Under-ride guards are designed to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath a trailer in situations where the smaller vehicle crashes into the rear of the trailer. However, the IIHS has found that these under-rides often buckle or break when impacted. The IIHS has now petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require stronger under-ride guards.
It is estimated that under-ride kills over 400 people each year and injures over 5,000. Unfortunately, even modern vehicles that are designed to withstand significant front impacts are susceptible to under-ride. The IIHS recently performed six crash tests where vehicles with dummies were crashed into the rear of parked trailers. The dummies’ heads made contact with the trailer or hood of the vehicle in three of the tests. In the real world, this could result in decapitation.