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Will New Underride Regulations Reduce Fatal Truck Accidents?

Oklahoma truck accident attorney

Fed seeks to upgrade rear underride truck guard rules.

Traffic safety officials are taking steps to reduce fatal truck accidents by updating tractor-trailer underride guard regulations.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced updates to two Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The changes would require rear-impact guards to provide sufficient strength and energy absorption to protect occupants of compact and subcompact passenger cars impacting the rear of tractor-trailers at 35 mph.

Truck underride accidents happen when a smaller vehicle, usually a passenger car, hits the rear of a semi-truck, tractor-trailer, or another type of heavy truck and slides underneath the trailer or cargo transportation unit. The slide can leave the car's hood and cab crushed underneath the huge vehicle, severely injuring and killing occupants inside.

Some safety advocates estimate about 80 to 90 percent of underride crashes are fatal. Unfortunately, many underride accidents are also the direct result of a trucker or trucking company's negligence.

Oklahoma truck underride accidents

Stop Underrides, an advocacy group, says hundreds of people die yearly in truck underride accidents. In Oklahoma, deadly underride accidents have been recorded in the area of:

  • I-44, I-35, and I-40 in the greater Oklahoma City region, Oklahoma County
  • US-54 across the panhandle
  • I-40 at US-283 and OK Highway 152 around Sayre
  • I-35 and US-77 in southern Oklahoma

To help prevent fatal underride accidents, some of the largest trailer manufacturing companies in the U.S. adopted stricter safety standards.

Underride guard safety standards

In 2018, eight major trailer manufacturers, representing about 80 percent of trailers on the road, required trailers to have rear guards that prevent underrides of a midsize car in three test modes - full-width, 50 percent overlap, and 30 percent overlap at speeds of 35 mph toward the back of a parked semi-trailer.

For their efforts, the manufacturers were recognized by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) with a safety ToughGuard award. The IIHS has been critical of the new federal underride regulations, asserting that more needs to be done. They are proponents of side truck underride guards and rear truck underride guards. The new rules mandate research on side underrides, but advocates say the topic has been analyzed enough already.

"Success requires implementation of redundant safety interventions like better underride protection on trailers to ensure that a mistake on the roadway does not result in serious injury or death," IIHS President David Harkey said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the NHTSA regulations are not yet permanent. Once published in the Federal Register, there will be a 45-day period for the public to petition for changes. After that, truck owners will be given about two years after publication to comply with updated regulations.

Contact an Oklahoma truck accident lawyer today.

If you were injured or a loved one died in a truck underride accident or some other type of collision with a semi-truck, you should call an attorney immediately to review your legal rights and options.

Don't try to take on the trucking company, their insurance company, and their teams of lawyers by yourself. You could end up accepting a settlement offer that falls far short of what you're entitled to recover. Or worse yet, you could end up with nothing at all.

Get the legal help you need right now. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Oklahoma truck accident attorney. Our offices are in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and we look forward to seeing how we can help you.

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