Truck underride accidents are some of the most deadly, occurring when a car or SUV slams into a truck and slides underneath. These wrecks are often serious—even at slow speeds—crumpling the front end of the smaller vehicle, shattering the windshield, and caving in the roof. The passengers inside are in serious peril and often suffer severe, life-altering injuries and even death. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that approximately 20 percent of fatal truck underride accidents are rear crashes, 20 percent are side crashes, and the majority are front crashes.
Truck underride guards, horizontal bars installed on the back of many types of large trucks, prevent rear underride in many cases. So, if these guards are effective in preventing rear underride, why don’t we install them on the front and sides of large trucks?
- Side guards would reduce injuries and save lives, according to IIHS crash analysis. However, there are still some design issues to resolve. First, side guards must be placed so that they do not interfere with the wheels. Since many trucks have sliding axles that can be adjusted according to the size and weight of the load, this is a difficult issue. Second, since side guards have to cover a large area, they are heavy, which reduces fuel economy and affects the bottom line.
- Front guards, according to the IIHS, would probably not change the outcome of a front underride crash involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck driving at moderate to high speeds. The extreme difference in size and weight of the passenger vehicle and the truck means there is a high probability that a front underride crash will be fatal.