Stop Underrides Act reintroduced

March 5, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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Lawmakers are again making a push to pass legislation that would require underride guards on the sides and front of all new tractor-trailers.

Earlier this week, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., reintroduced the Stop Underrides Act. Similar measures were introduced in 2017 and 2019.

Proponents of the bill say that studies show that an underride guard, which is a barrier attached to the lower area of a truck, would prevent a car from sliding underneath a truck during a crash.

OOIDA opposition

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to the mandate, calling the measures costly and impractical while pointing out there’s no proof they would increase safety.

In recent comments regarding underrides, OOIDA told the FMCSA that rear impact guards have been proven effective but that the same does not apply to side and front underrides.

The Association acknowledged in its comments that operational experience and research have proven that rear impact guards are a critical component, but it also used the time to restate its opposition to any potential front or side underride guard mandates.

“OOIDA opposes efforts that would mandate the installation of front and side underride guards on all CMVs and trailers exceeding 10,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight,” the Association wrote. “Over the last several years, NHTSA has considered numerous options involving side underride guards but has consistently concluded federal mandates would be impractical and costly, thus outweighing any perceived safety benefits. Any proposals to mandate side underrides disregards this reality and ignores the safety, economic, and operational concerns that have been raised by industry stakeholders.”

The Association previously sent setters to Gillibrand and Rubio expressing opposition of the bill.

“The mandates you’re promoting may actually increase the number of crashes on American highways while simultaneously worsening their severity,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote to Gillibrand and Rubio in January 2018. “Your legislation also creates serious economic hardships and operational challenges for small trucking businesses, which comprise 96% of U.S. motor carriers.” LL

OOIDA leaders laid out their views on the earlier incarnation of the Stop Underrides Act in a 2019 video.

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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.