The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association Reaction to IIHS Report: What is the Truth?

 

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(Courtesy IIHS Crash Test Photos)

The other day, I found an article which quoted the TTMA’s reaction to the IIHS Report on underride guards. It said that, “NHTSA’s past studies have shown that serious injuries and deaths can occur in rear crashes due to the sudden forces of deceleration that are imposed on the occupants even without underride.” http://www.scribd.com/doc/94313076/Truck-Trailer-Manufacturers-Association-Underride-Guard-Response (from May 2012 and quoted here). They used this to question whether underride guards should be made more rigid.

Russ Rader, IIHS Senior Vice President of Communications, pointed out to me that, “The central argument that they make isn’t supported by the Institute’s analysis of real-world crashes or the results of our trailer crash tests.”

Rader then mentioned that, “Twenty years ago with a less crash-worthy passenger vehicle fleet, the concern about unintended consequences may have had merit. But modern vehicles are engineered to handle crashes into stiff objects. For example, the Chevrolet Malibu that IIHS used in its trailer crash tests is a vehicle that earns top ratings in consumer front crash tests conducted by IIHS and NHTSA.  But in an underride crash, the benefits of that design don’t come into play. The energy-absorbing structures in the front-end of the Malibu aren’t able to do their job if the underride guard gives way. Our tests showed that a belted driver could walk away from a 35 mph crash into the back of a trailer with a strong underride guard. “

For more details, see the sidebar on page 3 of this 2011 IIHS Report, http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr4602.pdf

I also previously read TTMA statements quoted in an article by a reporter who interviewed me in the Fall of 2013 (http://www2.thedenverchannel.com/web/kmgh/news/underride-guards-metal-barriers-on-back-of-large-trucks-often-fail-to-protect-drivers ):

Jeff Sims, the president of the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA), was making an argument about underride guards:

“Sims argued that more rigid guards could lead to more deaths and more significant injuries. ‘A neck strain could become a neck fracture as a result,’ said Sims.”

When I read that, I thought, “Is that true? What is he basing that statement on?”

I have also been concerned about statements made by the American Trucking Association (ATA), which have been included in media interviews which I have participated in since our accident, e.g., http://myfox8.com/2013/08/13/families-push-for-tractor-trailer-regulations/, as well as two web stories on the subject, http://www2.thedenverchannel.com/web/kmgh/news/underride-guards-metal-barriers-on-back-of-large-trucks-often-fail-to-protect-drivers and http://www.theindychannel.com/news/call-6-investigators/mother-loses-daughters-raises-truck-underride-concerns.

I understand that we all need to look at every facet of the issues we are discussing and attempting to understand and resolve. However, I think it is important that statements which are made about vital issues are accurate and do not misrepresent the available data and facts–or distract from needed changes.

In the case of underride guards, the claims of the ATA and TTMA do not provide citations backing up their statements. If what they have stated is in any way questionable, and yet is allowed to stand as the truth, it could have far-reaching impact.

To tell you the truth, every time I read the TTMA’s statement, I am reminded of what happened to us and I think, “What are they basing their statement on? Conjecture? And then I think about our crash: AnnaLeah and Mary went under the truck and did not survive. Caleb and I did not go under; we also experienced deceleration but did not die as a result.”

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