U.S. GAO recommends more research on truck underride guards
April 15, 2019
As part of a 46-page report on truck underride guards, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the Department of Transportation should take steps to provide a standardized definition of underride crashes and data fields.
The report, which was released on Monday, April 15, also recommended the DOT to share information with police departments on identifying underride crashes to establish annual inspection requirements for rear guards and to conduct additional research on side underride guards.
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.
In March, lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced the Stop Underrides Act, which would require tractor-trailers to have underride guards on the sides and front.
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.
“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 to lawmakers 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.”
“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.