A rare piece of bipartisan legislation has been introduced in Congress, which if passed would substantially reduce the threat of so-called "underride accidents" in Ohio and beyond.
The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 was introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the Senate and by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) in the House.
The bill would require underside guards to be installed on the sides of trailers and the front of trucks. Proposed legislation would also update rear guard standards, which have been unchanged since the 1990s.
Experienced Columbus trucking accident attorneys know underride collisions are among the deadliest threats motorists face. Any move aimed at reducing the threat will have a measurable impact on highway safety in Ohio.
Underride Common in Rear-End & Failure-to-Yield Collisions
An estimated 1,500 motorists are killed annually in underride collisions, after their vehicles collide with and slide beneath tractor-trailers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed an update to rear-guard standards in 2015, after a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported lax standards in the United States leading to serious safety threats.
Existing guards were found to be particularly ineffective when the rear of a trailer was struck off-center. In many cases, the guards sheared through the passenger cabin and the vehicle ended up beneath the trailer anyway. Trucks.com recently reported the NHTSA has thus far failed to move forward with the new standards.
The proposal now in Congress would mandate the rear-guard update and require regulations for sideguards and front-guards as well. While rear underride collisions are most common, side underride accidents kill an estimated 300 motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians each year. These collisions are most common when a trucker swings wide to make a turn with his trailer and fails to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic, or approaching walkers or cyclists.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Associations is reviewing the proposed legislation. The side panels are expected to cost $3,000 to $4,000 per set. An IIHS test of side underride guards last year found some models were effective in crash tests up to 35 mph, while other models sheered off the passenger cabin as it passed beneath the trailer and likely would have resulted in fatal injuries to passenger occupants.
By U.S. Department of Transportation estimates, the legislation could save 4,000 lives over the next 20 years, including 1,500 people who would otherwise die in side underride collisions.
Liability for Accidents with Semis in Columbus
Columbus is capitol city and a hub for transportation and distribution throughout Ohio. Those involved in a motor-vehicle accident with a semi or other large commercial vehicle should seek experienced legal representation as soon as possible. Commercial trucking litigation is a complex area of law. Often a victim is left to deal with very serious injuries. Out-of-state trucking companies and their insurers further complicate the issues.
Your chosen injury lawyer should have significant experience in handling trucking accidents. A thorough review of the facts and circumstances of your case will require review of compliance with federal Hours-of-Service regulations, truck and trailer maintenance and service logs, a trucker's driving record and cell phone records, and the compliance history of the trucking company.