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Could this device prevent many truck accident deaths?

One of the biggest dangers relating to a commercial truck accident relates to what is referred to as an "underride accident." The accidents happen when a smaller car goes under the trailer of a truck and gets crushed. In these crashes, the car may go partially or completely beneath the truck and they often result in the death of the vehicle driver and his or her passengers. Hundreds of people died from underride accidents in 2015.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however, a new piece of semitruck safety equipment could be installed to prevent many of these deaths.

What semitruck accident statistics reveal

In 2015, 1,542 passenger vehicle occupants died in semitruck crashes. Among these, 301 involved a crash into the side of a tractor trailer and 292 involved a crash into the rear of a tractor trailer. The law requires semitrucks to be equipped with underride protectors on the backs of their trailers but not on the sides.

The IIHS says that an aftermarket guard can be attached to the sides of a semitruck trailer to prevent slide under accidents. The device has proved effective in crash tests involving a vehicle traveling at 40-mph. The device was particularly useful when combined with the benefits of an airbag and a properly used seatbelt.

According to the executive vice president and chief researcher at IIHS, "Broader use of devices like this one, combined with continued improvements to rear underride guards, would go a long way toward reducing deaths in large truck crashes."

Underride guards are not required at this time

The underride devices are currently not required on semitrucks, but if research and advocacy prove fruitful, the installation and appropriate use of these underride guards could become law.

In the meantime, there are numerous rules and regulations that govern the safety features on semitrucks. California residents who were hurt in semitruck crashes may, therefore, wish to investigate whether a transportation company's failure to adhere to safety regulations caused his or her injuries.

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