WUSA9 Truck Underride Series, Part 1: 3 young girls lives cut short in truck underride crashes

Last night, Eric Flack, investigative reporter with WUSA9 in Washington, D.C., began the first part of a series of broadcasts on truck underride. Part 2 will air Friday night, July 14, at 11 p.m.

See last night’s broadcast here: 3 Young girls lives cut short in truck underride crashes

Facebook Livestream Introduction last night:  https://www.facebook.com/WUSA9/videos/10156426907094778/

After looking at some of the comments on the WUSA9 Facebook page, I realized that there were many truck drivers who were complaining about the fact that many car drivers aren’t paying attention or driving safely around trucks. While that may be true, it bothered me that they don’t seem to get that we are not talking about who caused the crash. We are talking about preventing a collision from turning into an underride tragedy.

The problem is that, possibly due to their perception of the issue, the truck drivers get upset because they fear the loss of their livelihood as a result of the cost of installing safety devices. Then they lobby Congress who worries about their campaign contributions and re-election. On top of that, the cost/benefit analysis is skewed and the protection does not get put on decade after decade.

There seems to be an inadequate grasp of the concept that we are not talking here about blame for the collision itself. We are talking about what Dr. Haddon called the “Second Collision”  — what the body collides with after the initial collision — in this case because the underride causes the truck to enter the passenger occupant space (known as Passenger Compartment Intrusion or PCI), leading to catastrophic injuries.

 Underride protective devices can be compared to airbags and seat belts — all of them being passive restraint devices/systems. Should we make the decision to not use airbags and seat belts because, really, people just need to pay more attention and drive better?

A Passive Restraint System is defined in one of the following ways:

  • A system that is constantly operating while a driver sits inside the automobile and the vehicle is in motion
  • A system that restrains the individuals within from moving if a collision occurs
  • A system which deploys automatically without any intentional action having to be undertaken by any of the individual(s) inside of the vehicle

Comprehensive Underride Protection is designed to prevent the Second Collision of the body with the truck. Without the CUP, the crush zone of the car and the other passive restraint devices (airbags and seat belts) don’t have a chance to go to work for us.

Yesterday, I posted these thoughts in response to industry concerns (costs) about underride legislation: Should the trucking industry be concerned about underride legislation?

Recent article in support of adding side guards: Underride crashes aren’t new. Hollywood starlet Jayne Mansfield famously died in such a crash a half-century ago (June 28, 1967 to be exact). And the technology to prevent them, including side underrides, is now well proven. The only real obstacle is whether the nation’s elected leaders in Washington are willing to require the safety upgrade despite trucking industry opposition. Truck trailers can (easily) be made safer, Baltimore Sun, July 14, 2017

The truth of the matter is that the trucking industry and the government have been well aware of these problems for decades and yet have not relentlessly pursued an effective solution. Can we hope that this will change? If not, shame on them.

How many people have to die before they do something?

The Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017:  RAMCUP Draft 15 with Cover

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *