OOIDA fighting ‘costly,’ ‘impractical’ underride legislation

May 2019

Mark Schremmer

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Four lawmakers have reintroduced legislation to prevent underride crashes.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. Steven Cohen, D-Tenn., and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., introduced the Stop Underrides Act on March 5. S665 and HR1511 would require tractor-trailers to have underride guards on the sides and front.

“Congress has the ability to make simple and commonsense changes that would save lives on the road,” Gillibrand said in a news release. “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.”

Similar measures were previously introduced in December 2017. Those advocating for the bills say that studies show that an underride guard, which is a barrier attached to the lower area of a truck, would help prevent a car from sliding underneath a truck during a crash.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to the mandate. It issued a Call to Action to its more than 160,000 members and sent letters to lawmakers in opposition of the Stop Underrides Act.

“Over the last several decades, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has considered numerous options involving underride guards but has consistently concluded federal mandates would be impractical and costly, thus outweighing any perceived safety benefits,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President Todd Spencer.

The Association said the bills go too far, requiring truckers to install real underride guards “on trailers that can’t physically accommodate them, such as low boys, household goods trailers, auto transporters, etc.”

In both bills, the mandate would retroactively apply to all trailers, including those nearing the end of their service.

The bills also would require the installation of side underride guards.

“While existing technologies may reduce passenger compartment intrusion in certain situations, the bill fails to recognize numerous other issues limiting the real world practicality of side underride guards,” OOIDA wrote. LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.