On California highways, truck accidents are a major concern. Passenger vehicles are smaller than big rigs and when the two meet in a collision, the result is almost always devastating. In terms of truck accidents, one of the most deadly accidents is the underride collision. Underride collisions occur when a car hits a big rig and winds up wedging beneath the tractor-trailer. This can shear off or destroy the top of the car, severely injuring or worse, killing those within the vehicle. Can underride guards help alleviate this problem?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested the effectiveness of underride guards. Underride guards are mandatory on the backs of semi-trucks. However, they are not required on the sides of trucks. Tests involved two runs at 35 MPH. In both of the tests, a midsize car strikes a truck from the side. In the test with an underride guard, the guard does bend, but the car cannot go beneath the trailer. Without the guard, the impact destroyed part of the roof and wedged the car under the trailer.
The study shows that underride guards can reduce the risk of injury in side crashes. There are a few cities that mandate the use of side guards on trucks owned by the city. These initiatives are in place to protect bicyclists who may end up dragged beneath trucks during a collision. There is no mandate in California, however, or through the federal government.
The above information is meant to inform on the safety provided by underride guards on big rigs. It is not to be considered legal advice.