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New Law Would Require Greater Protection from Big Rig Underride Accidents

Big rig flipped over

A piece of legislation currently making its way through the US Senate would require that commercial trucks carry greater protections against so-called underride accidents. If enacted, the safety provisions called for in the new bill, called the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, could prevent hundreds of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in deadly car crashes in New Jersey and nationwide.

Underride accidents occur when a passenger vehicle collides with the front, side, or rear of a tractor-trailer or semi-truck. If the truck lacks underride protections, the smaller passenger vehicle may slide under the trailer. When a car passes under a larger object, the car’s safety structures designed to prevent occupants from being injured in a crash are bypassed. These types of crashes often result in the roof being torn off the passenger vehicle, or in the passenger compartment being completely crushed.

The federal government has long required that large trucks weighing over 10,000 lbs use guards which prevent underride collisions when a car hits the rear of a truck. However, these rear guards are not always able to prevent underride collisions. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a study of 115 collisions between passenger vehicles and the rear-end of tractor-trailers. Despite laws mandating that trucks use rear underride guards, about half of all passenger vehicles suffered underride damage in these accidents, and of the 28 fatal accidents included among those studied, 23 had involved severe underride damage. Cars can also suffer serious damage as the result of colliding with the sides of tractor-trailers, which are not currently required to have underride protections.

The legislation currently before a US Senate committee would require that large commercial trucks have underride guards on their sides and front ends, and that rear guards be strengthened to be able to withstand greater force than currently required. The bill was introduced in memory of three young women, AnnaLeah Karth, Mary Karth, and Roya Durso, all of whom were killed in underride accidents. If passed, the bill would represent the first change to underride protection since 1998. Russ Rader, IIHS spokesperson, explained that “underride crashes don’t need to happen, they are preventable. Side underride guards will save lives.”

If you or someone you love has been injured in a large truck accident in New Jersey, find out if you’re entitled to money damages through a personal injury lawsuit by contacting the knowledgeable and seasoned New Jersey car and truck accident lawyer Andrew R. Jacobs at 973-532-9681.

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