Traffic Experts Debate How to Prevent Deadly Truck Underride Crashes

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Big trucks need improved underride guards, trucking industry executives, government officials and safety activists agree, but opinions diverge sharply on the design and cost of the safety measures.

That’s what emerged from an all-day conference on deadly underride crashes at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Va. Thursday.

Big trucks “are not in any way crash-friendly,” said Robert Molloy, director of highway safety at the National Transportation Safety Board.

Underride is when a passenger vehicle crashes into a semi-tractor trailer or a straight truck from behind or from the side and jams underneath, flattening the passenger compartment and injuring or killing the vehicle’s occupants. The term also describes what happens when bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists slide under the body of a truck, usually from the side, and are in danger of being run over.

The industry should “move heaven and earth to make the best-possible protection,” said Marianne Karth.

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