Every truck on the road has a rear underride guard to prevent major
injuries in rear-end collisions. But there's still the matter of side
underride events, and they're no less dangerous.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is currently testing
underride solutions for semi trucks. The IIHS already looked at the rear
guards that many of us are familiar with, so now it's turned its
attention to side underride guards, which stop perpendicular collisions
from turning deadly.
The majority of side cladding you see under a
semi truck is built for aerodynamic purposes to help increase fuel
efficiency. Those thin panels do next to nothing when a collision
occurs. However, companies such as AngelWing and Airflow Deflector Inc
beef those panels up to withstand collisions without permitting an
A traditional under-ride event is terrifying,
as you can see from the watchdog's video. The dummy's head is bent back
as the side of the truck intrudes on the passenger area, cutting
straight through the windshield and part of the roof. With underride
guards in place, it's more of a traditional collision, allowing the
dummy to contact the airbags and preventing any cabin intrusion.
is a clear need for this type of crash-prevention technology. Of the
1,542 people who died in crashes with tractor-trailers in 2015,
approximately 20 percent of them involved a side collision. And the
numbers have gone up more or less every year since 2011, so the IIHS has
started testing side underride guards to see if it can eventually
compel more trucking companies to include them.
Right now, federal
law mandates the implementation of rear underride guards, but not side
underride guards. Certain cities require them on city-owned or
contracted trucks, but that's about it. The data IIHS collects might go a
long way in changing that.