Progress is being made on the prevention of truck underride tragedies. But we have a long way to go before comprehensive underride protection is on every truck on the road. That is why we are working hard on every front to raise awareness of the century-old underride problem — along with proven and promising solutions.
But not everyone seems to get the sense of urgency which drives us to insistently call for resolution of this issue via the STOP Underrides! Bill posthaste. That’s why I decided to create this simple graphic to drive home the point that the price we pay, as a result of our delay in taking meaningful action, is too costly to accept any further meaningless excuses:
Based on analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of NHTSA’s truck crash fatality statistics (FARS), this graphic reflects the 600 truck/car collisions which annually occur, on average, at the sides and rear of large trucks — leaving out front collisions: potential underride tragedies which we want to prevent with the STOP Underrides! Bill.
Some years ago, I noticed the way that the prophet Daniel, in Daniel 9, got on his knees and repented on behalf of his people. . . God’s people, for wrongdoing that he was not directly responsible for — appealing to God to act mercifully.
This week, I thought of that again and determined to stand in the stead of all those who have turned their backs to the underride problem — unknowingly or not. Perhaps we all play some part in not getting to the bottom of those terrible tragedies.
In any case, on behalf of all those who have not been held accountable, I repent of our country’s indifference to this preventable highway carnage. I ask the Lord to forgive our callous attitude, misplaced priorities, and neglect. May He stir up a sense of urgency that we might all take appropriate action and work together more creatively and effectively.
What are we waiting for?! Let’s get on with it! We’ve got people counting on us — whether they know it or not.
Yesterday I contacted NHTSA and IIHS and asked them if they would be able to look at their data on underride deaths and break them out by State. They both graciously made it a priority and created some new charts, graphs, and a map.
The pdf from NHTSA has data taken from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), by which NHTSA collects information on fatal crashes from each state. This extensive chart covers the time period of 1994 to 2015, showing underride deaths when the initial collision was at the front, side, and rear of trailers — first for the country, followed by a similar format for each state. Numbers are shown one year at a time and then totaled:
Passenger Vehicle Underride Fatalities by State, 1994-2015, by NHTSA
Please remember that it is well-known that underride deaths are under-counted in these charts. In fact, Lois Durso and I both have found that our daughters deaths are not accurately reported in these charts.
We also received a graph of underride deaths by State for 2015 from Matt Brumbelow at the IIHS. Specifically, these are “2015 Passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in 2-vehicle crashes with tractor-trailers.”
Matt asked me to explain further, “that 2015 is still the latest year of data that NHTSA has released. Also, that while not all these crashes will have involved underride, our estimates based on other studies is that underride occurs in 80-90% of tractor-trailer rear and side crashes with serious/fatal injuries.”
PV Fatalities in Truck Crashes 2015 per IIHS
U.S. Map PV Fatalities Truck Crashes in 2015 per IIHS
I hope that these visual and informative tools will aid us, as a nation, in addressing this tragic but preventable public health problem.
I asked DOT for a breakdown of truck underride deaths by type: front, side, and rear. I just received that chart today.
Truck Underride Deaths by TYPE 1994-2014
From 1994 to 2014, this is the breakdown of Deaths by Underride:
Collision at Front of the Truck: 625
Collision at Side of the Truck: 1534
Collision at Rear of the Truck: 1715
Collision Site Unknown: 132
Total Underride Deaths Reported: 4,006
Of course, we need to remember that these figures do not include all underride deaths as it is well-known that they are commonly under-reported.
So why are trucks sold without side guards? (Why on earth would this be an optional feature?!) And why does NHTSA not mandate side guards?
Sign our petition to NHTSA to initiate rulemaking on side guards: Mandate Side Guards On Large Trucks To End Deadly Side Underride Crashes
Posts on Side Underride