Stop Underrides Act a ‘nonsense’ bill, OOIDA says

October 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The Stop Underrides Act is a “nonsense” bill that would cost the trucking industry tens of billions of dollars, OOIDA leaders said.

In March, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., introduced S665 and Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced HR1511, which would require tractor-trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more to install rear, side and front underride guards.

“This would not only require it on new trucks,” OOIDA Manager of Government Affairs Mike Matousek said. “There are retrofit provisions in each section of the bill that would require everyone to essentially retrofit their truck with a front, rear and side underride guard, and their trailer. In terms of costs, we are probably talking about tens of billions of dollars collectively for the trucking industry to comply with something like this.”

There also are problems with the bill’s wording.

“Another problem we see is that there’s nothing in here that says this is just for commercial trucks,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh said. “The way this reads, and the way this bill is written, this will not only apply to your truck but also to your personal vehicle. If you have a three-quarter ton pickup truck and happen to put a 3-inch lift kit on this truck, you will probably have to have front, side and rear underride guards on it.”

In addition, current guards can withstand 35 mph. Advocates for the guards hope to develop the technology to be able to withstand 65 mph in the near future.

“This would mandate that you install front, rear and side underride guards on all of your equipment,” Matousek said. “And then just a few years after that, theoretically, you might have to replace all of it.”

In April, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the Department of Transportation needs to conduct more research on truck underride guards. According to the GAO report, less than 1% of the total traffic fatalities from 2008 through 2017 were underride crashes involving large trucks.

As of press time, the Stop Underrides Act had 20 co-sponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate. LL

 

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, staff writer, 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 nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.