IIHS demonstrates that trailer underride guards fail to stop deadly crashes

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 20, 2013

The unreliability of steel guards positioned on the back ends of large truck trailers was emphasized with the release of the new crash-test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. IIHS institute cautioned that if these guards fail when hit by a car, this could lead to a disastrous underride where cars slide under the large truck.

The institute tested trailers that got guards from manufacturers: Great Dane, Manac, Hyundai, Stoughton, Strick, Utility, Vanguard and Wabash. The institute said that over 20 tests were conducted using trailers from these eight manufacturers. However, just Manac's guard averted underride in the three tests.

The institute said that in 2011, there were more than 250 deaths due to crashes in which passenger vehicles hit the back end of trailers on huge trucks. The institute said that underride collisions may lead to decapitation. Cars are meant to manage severe frontal crashes, but if truck guards bend or break, the primary impact point could be the car’s windshield.

This may lead to the destruction of the top of the occupant compartment. In response to the test results, the American Trucking Associations said that the focus would have to be on averting underside collisions.

The group said that the underride guard never has to be used. In a statement, the associations said that there should be more driver education on sharing the road with large commercial vehicles. They also claim that there will be improvements when there are campaigns for the heavier use of collision avoidance technology in cars and trucks. Numerous studies reveal that three of four deaths that involve cars and trucks are inadvertently started or caused by the driver.

Topics: iihs

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