UMTRI Reviews Opposition to Proposed & Proven Truck Underride Prevention Measures

Back in 1989, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute examined features proposed for improving truck safety. In other words, they reviewed NHTSA underride rulemaking from years past.

What they discovered was that a proposed underride rule in 1977 was opposed by practically “the entire trucking industry – both manufacturers and haulers.” The authors of this study noted “that failure to implement a rule on underride guards took place despite extensive research indicating their expected effectiveness.”

Like they still do today, the industry tried to turn “the discussion around by stating that underride avoidance should be looking at other measures”–ones that they would not be required to implement. “In particular it called for improving and modifying auto front ends to increase their energy absorbing capacity ‘. . . and protect them when they strike bridges, trees, other cars, and other objects, as well as trucks.'”

Today they are still raising the same sort of objections to improving underride protection:

“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.’ 

Today, I was discussing that article with my husband. Jerry commented that the Tesla underride crash clearly causes that argument to go out the window. A car with the most advanced collision avoidance technology still could not avoid a deadly side underride.

Note: I appreciate the progress made in underride prevention by at least 4 major trailer manufacturers. And I appreciate the involvement in our Underride Roundtable by many members of the trucking industry. Ted Scott was the first one to say that he would participate in one when it was still just an idea in my head and is also participating in the follow-up efforts to reach a unified consensus recommendation to NHTSA.

But that does not mean that I will stop seeking further action (even when it requires standing firm against controversy) when so much more can be done to save lives.


17hxhyTruck Underride Kills

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