Safety experts at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are lobbying the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) to change the rules for truck trailer rear guard protective devices.
The current rules were first implemented in 1998. At that time, some trucking companies were voluntarily adding protective rear guards to their truck trailers. Prior to that, when a passenger vehicle engaged in a rear-end crash with a tractor trailer, the occupants were often decapitated.
The rules regulating truck trailer rear guards that went into effect allow some trucking companies to become lax in their use. For example, news agency WUSA 9 conducted a check on I-95 at a rest stop in Maryland. In their investigative report, the station said that some rear guards were rusted so much that they could not prevent serious injuries in a crash.
Two Decades of Research Shows Rules Failing to Prevent Fatalities
At a time when rear underride protection was largely unknown on tractor trailers, some large trucking companies took a proactive approach. This allowed them a front-row seat in developing legislation that would presumably protect the public. In the time since the initial passage of laws requiring rear guards on tractor trailers, the NHTSA has conducted scores of studies. The IIHS has also conducted their own studies.
IIHS said their studies showed that rear underride protection measures are failing to prevent highway fatalities. NHTSA agreed and created a plan in 2015 to make changes. The plan intends to strengthen rear guard protections as has been done in Canada.
The plan has the support of the American Trucking Association, but is yet to be implemented. In reviewing it, the IIHS says that the plan still fails to address the underlying problem with the truck trailer rear guards as it calls for stronger underride protections for new trailers only. Older trailers will be exempt, leaving thousands on highways with the potential for deadly crashes.
Ultimately, the issue becomes one of money. The NHTSA and DOT state that the cost to implement the new regulations on existing equipment would be too costly for trucking companies. They reason that the few lives that would be saved would not offset the billions it would cost to prevent the deaths. The solution is the piecemeal approach these agencies propose, but have yet to implement.
Cherry Hill Truck Accident Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Help Victims of Trucking Crashes
The Cherry Hill truck accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law know that this attitude is a large part of the reason many fatal crashes occur. Many companies today measure the cost of lawsuits into their business plans and if they assess that the cost of making life-saving changes is higher, the changes lose.
When it comes to trucking accidents, if the truck trailer rear guard fails, the company is liable regardless of the rules. If you have been involved in a crash with a tractor trailer, you may have a right to fair compensation.
Contact the Cherry Hill truck accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law today for a free consultation. If you live anywhere in the Philadelphia area including Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, Mt. Holly, and Camden County complete the online form or call 856-414-0010 now.