What are underrides?
An underride is when a car goes under the back or side of a trailer. New American standards help prevent rear underrides, but side underrides protection remains under-regulated. Underride protection prevents catastrophic collision injuries and deaths.
This video from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows the catastrophic result of an underride collision, as well as a the way that side underride guards can save lives.
Each of these crashes is performed at only 35 mph. Even at low speeds, underride accidents are deadly.
Underride collisions undermine car safety features. Air bags do not deploy because the smaller vehicle’s bumpers and air bag sensors are not triggered. Energy absorbing bumpers and crumple zones, all designed to keep the passenger compartment intact, become irrelevant.
Hundreds of people die every year in underride crashes. However, the U.S.Government Accountability Office stated that underride injuries and deaths “are likely underreported due to a variability in state and local data collection.” 1
Across the U.S., police officers responding to crashes don’t have a standard definition of an underride crash. Many accident report forms don’t include a specific field to account for underrides.
Underride Guards Save Lives
Side and rear underride guards allow car safety features to activate. When a car impacts an underride guard, the first point of contact is the front of the car, rather than the driver or interior compartment.
Currently, American companies are required to provide rear underride guards. Side underride guards also make an important difference. Many other parts of the world, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan, Australia, and China, have surpassed the U.S. in regulatory requirements for rear guards, front underride protection, and side underride guards. 2
Stop Underrides Act
The Stop Underrides Act would require underride guards on the sides and front of large trucks, as well as updating current standards for underride guards on the rear of trucks.
On March 5, 2019, versions of the Stop Underrides Act were introduced in both the House of Representative and the Senate. Co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, the Stop Underrides Act is a common sense legislation that will save lives.
Andy Young spoke before the House of Representatives, testifying in favor of the Stop Underrides Act on June, 12, 2019.
“We need to have underride guards that allow the safety engineering of passenger cars to interact with safety features of trucks, so that all of those features can work together to protect vehicle occupants. The fact that many catastrophic injuries and deaths are easily and affordably preventable, yet nobody is doing anything to prevent them, is simply unconscionable.”
Other Resources to Stop Underrides
AnnaLeah and Mary – After a devastating underride accident in 2013 that killed two of her daughters, Marianne Karth has been leading the fight to require side underride protection on tractor trailers. Her website provides a timeline of measures to stop underrides. It begins with a 1969 Department of Transportation memo stating that the department intended, “after technical studies have been completed, to extend the requirement for underride protection to the sides of large vehicles.” Underrides are not a new issue.
Stop Underrides – Created by Lois Durso, in honor of her daughter Roya who was killed in a 2004 underride accident, this site provides further resources on underride accidents. It includes crash maps and data on where underride accidents have taken place, and documents crash test footage proving the effectiveness of different side underride guards, including AngelWing and SafetySkirt.
NPR covered these families’ stories and legal efforts to stop underrides in “Moms Who Lost Daughters In Truck Underride Collisions Push for Greater Safety.”
1 Government Accountability Office. TRUCK UNDERRIDE GUARDS: Improved Data Collection, Inspections, and Research Needed. GAO-19-264: Published: Mar 14, 2019 https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-264
2 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe ECE Regulation No. 73, Lateral Protection; United Nations
Economic Commission for Europe ECE Regulation No. 93, Front Underrun Protection; and United Nations
Economic Commission for Europe ECE Regulation No. 58 for Rear Underrun Protection. http://www.unece.org/trans/main/wp29/wp29regs41-60.html