Semi-Truck Side Guards: Are They Safe?

side underride guardThere are many ways that people have been killed or seriously injured when a big rig has either impacted them or they have driven into one. One of these ways is when a vehicle has impacted a truck from behind, and due to its size, the vehicle slides underneath a truck. Similarly, a vehicle can slide underneath a big rig through its side, causing serious consequences.

Even though there are certain safety measures put in place by truck manufacturers, they are not always enough or do not always work in the way that they should. What are these safety measures, and how can they be used to prevent more truck wreck fatalities? An important new safety innovation, as you will find out, is side underride guards.

What is a Truck Guard?

A truck guard is a guard, typically made out of strong metals such as steel, which is placed in the back of a truck behind the truck’s rear tires, typically extending down from the truck’s bumper. The purpose of this guard is to prevent vehicles from sliding underneath a truck in the event of an impact. When a car has impacted the back of a truck and there has not been a guard present, the roof of the car is destroyed and exposes the driver and/or passengers to severe injuries - such as decapitation.

Even though the goal of these guards is to prevent serious bodily injuries from taking place, there have been significant flaws that have been identified, such as:

Poor Design

If a guard is placed on a truck, but does not have a design optimized for safety or is made from light or flexible materials, then the guard can break off in a vehicle impact.

Improper Installation

Equally important, if a well-made guard is installed in an improper way, or if the guard is not long enough to cover the truck’s back base, then a person can furtherly be injured or go under the guard, respectively.

Lack Thereof

Lastly, a truck without a truck guard can be a threat to other drivers and passengers on the road in the event of a rear-ended impact.

For these reasons, an effective truck guard is one that is designed well with quality materials and is fully and impartially installed. This same method can be transferred to a side underride guard. These types of truck guards are placed in both sides of a truck. These are installed to prevent vehicles from slipping underneath a truck’s side in an accident. Similar (and even worse) injuries have resulted from vehicles going underneath a truck’s side; a truck can run-over a vehicle if it is stuck under its trailer.

Can a Side Underride Guard Work?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), preliminary safety tests have received satisfactory results with trucks that have strong side underride guards installed. This is excellent news, as it demonstrates that new safety measures can be applied that can save lives. While federal laws and regulations only require large trucks to have guards placed in the back of the trailer, side guards are not yet required. However, this can all change as safety tests push lawmakers to take sideguards into consideration; side underride guards can soon be legally required for all large trucks in the future.

Mark A. Anderson
Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas
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