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Will The Federal Government Act To Require Side Guard Protection On Big Trucks?

It’s a subject I’ve addressed in several posts: Side Under-ride protections on large commercial trucks. I’ve listed some of my prior articles below for more information. In recent weeks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has begun to move forward with actions that may finally provide this needed protection for drivers on our highways!

Side Underride Protections Are An Important Safety Feature!

How can side guards prevent needless highway injuries and deaths? Large eighteen wheeler trucks have high ground clearances. You’ve probably ridden next to one on the Interstate. If you’ve driven down Interstate 65 or Interstate 20 / 59 across Alabama, you’ve seen huge numbers of large eighteen wheeler trucks. You’ve probably noticed that you could almost fit a small car under many of those large trucks – almost. That’s the safety problem.

When a car collides with the side of a large commercial truck, the results are often tragic. The top of the car can be sheered by the impact because of the high ground clearance. In my law practice, I’ve seen the aftermath of these deadly accidents at the scene and in photographs.

Yet, a simple safety feature could fix this danger and prevent needless deaths. Side safety guards. A simple safety feature could largely prevent these deadly tragedies on Alabama highways.

Side Safety Guards Are A Really Effective Safety Device!

In the United States, safety professionals have long advocated for side under-ride guards. For decades, safety professionals have tried to implement these devices. In recent years, members of Congress have any tried. Unfortunately, trucking lobbyists have worked tirelessly to prevent this safety feature from being a requirement.

Are side guards effective? Yes, they can be. Rear safety guards have been required on large trucks in the United States for decades. They have worked to prevent deadly rear underride crashes. You don’t hear about read under-ride crashes because they don’t happen.

In both Europe and Japan, side guards have also been required on large trucks since the 1980s. In areas where side guards are standard, the safety data shows a tremendous decrease in fatalities. Think about that — We have decades of safety data from other countries proving that side guards prevent deadly crashes, injuries and deaths. Side safety guards work. They save lives.

Will Side Guards Become A Required Safety Feature In The United States?

In April 2023, the NHTSA appointed an Advisory Committee to recommend specific safety regulations for underride crashes. You can read the Department of Transportation press release HERE.

Will this committee produce important safety recommendations? If the committee does propose important safety recommendations, will the Federal government act to protect us?

An advisory committee is an important first step. The committee has members with strong safety backgrounds. I’m going to remain hopeful that finally some positive steps will be taken to prevent these deadly highway accidents.

Prior Truck Safety Guard Articles I’ve Written.

Here are a few of my prior articles on the topic:

You can also read more on our website where we devote a page to commercial truck accidents. Commercial truck accidents are very different from car accidents. Commercial vehicles are larger, heavier and subject to special highway rules. In many of my past articles, I discuss the special issues with crashes involving large trucks. I also discuss some of the issues facing truck drivers, such as medical certification and health concerns. If you have questions about a commercial truck case or issue, let us know.