Legislators Work To Prevent Underride Truck Accidents

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., have reintroduced legislation, the Stop Underrides Act, to help prevent deadly truck underride crashes.

An underride crash occurs when a car slides under a large truck, such as a semi-trailer, during an accident. When these accidents happen, a car’s safety features are rendered useless because most of the car slides under the trailer and the truck crashes straight through the windows and into the passengers. The passengers in the car often suffer severe head and neck injuries, including decapitation. These accidents are often fatal, even at low speeds.

Studies and pilot programs show that a simple barrier attached to the lower area of a truck, called an “underride guard,” would help prevent a car from sliding underneath a truck in an accident. Under current federal law, underride guards are not required to be on the sides or front of trucks. Underride guards are already required for the back of a truck, but the standards are outdated. The bipartisan Stop Underrides Act would require underride guards on the sides and front of a truck and would update the outdated standards for underride guards on the back of trucks.

“Congress has the ability to make simple and commonsense changes that would save lives on the roads. Truck underride guards are one of the best and easiest solutions for protecting passengers and preventing them from being killed when a car collides with a truck,” Gillibrand said. “I’m proud to introduce the Stop Underrides Act to protect passengers and help keep our roads safer, and I urge all of my colleagues to join us in supporting this bipartisan bill.”

In addition to requiring underride guards on the sides and front of a truck and updating the outdated standards for underride guards on the back of trucks, this legislation would also ensure that the annual inspection for all large trucks includes underride guards as part of the inspection and would require the Department of Transportation to review underride standards every five years to evaluate the need for changes in response to advancements in technology.

Gillibrand said the Stop Underrides Act is endorsed by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Reports, Truck Safety Coalition, National Safety Council, and Road to Zero Coalition.