Stop Underrides Act would cost trucking tens of billions of dollars, OOIDA leaders say

August 7, 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 a Facebook Live video on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

In March, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced S665 and HR1511, respectively, 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.”

Matousek also pointed out a problem with the bill that would require front underride guards on the front of a trailer.

“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 and 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.”

There is no height requirement on trailers, so any trailer with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or more would require underride guards as well.

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.

Those advocating for the bills say that studies show than 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. According to the GAO report, however, from 2008 through 2017 an average of about 219 fatalities from underride crashes involving large trucks were reported annually. That represents less than 1% of the total traffic fatalities during that span.

As of Aug. 7, the Stop Underrides Act has 20 co-sponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate.

Mark Schremmer

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

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