Underride Guards in the News

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Truck safety issues are certainly in the news of late…

If ever I realized how important it is to say what you mean and mean what you say, I surely do so now! Following last week’s announcement of the NHTSA rulemaking process on underride guards, I have had 3 interviews–two via phone and one in person. I appreciate the willingness of these reporters to give this topic coverage.
Here is the newscast from one of those interviews with Kara Kenney RTV6:
http://www.theindychannel.com/news/call-6-investigators/feds-evaluating-safety-of-truck-underride-guards

I am again disturbed by industry comments such as I see in this newscast:

“The trucking industry and manufacturers are not sure stricter federal regulations are needed – especially since many are voluntarily using tougher underride guards.

‘Underride guards are helpful in reducing the impact of cars crashing into trucks. We would however much prefer to see NHTSA focus on providing automobiles with the capability of preventing cars crashing into trucks,’ said Ted Scott, director of engineering for the American Trucking Associations, Inc. ‘Crash or collision avoidance technology can go a long [ways] in helping to eliminate rear end crashes. Educating automobile drivers on how to share the road with a truck is also very helpful in reducing rear end collisions.’

Jeff Sims, president of the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, said TTMA supports the review.”

What is Ted Scott saying? Is he actually saying he wants NHTSA to do the one thing [crash avoidance technology] instead of the other [improved underride guards]? Sure, that would take the pressure and focus off of the trucking industry’s responsibility.

It seems to me that what he said is kind of like saying, “It is more important to concentrate on eliminating crashes, so don’t worry about protecting people who experience crashes (for example by doing such things as inventing and requiring the installation of things like airbags, seatbelts, and IMPROVED underride guards).” Is it really an either/or situation? Why is he presenting it as if it is?

On top of that, the ATA and TTMA statements convey the impression that if many manufacturers [Note: Not All.] are already exceeding federal standards, then everything is hunky dory, no need for change–hundreds of deaths a year from underride crashes are meaningless, especially if we can decide to lay the blame on the car driver anyway.  And what do they have to say about the fact that most of those same manufacturers, who may be exceeding the current federal standards [perhaps 7 out of 8], did not pass all of the IIHS crash tests in 2013 (i.e., if their trailers had been in real crashes, the occupants probably would have died)?!

 

If, as a spokesperson of the trucking industry, he is reflecting a general attitude which impacts daily decisions and actions, this is very distressing to me.

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