Robert Martineau, President and CEO of Airflow Deflector, Inc., discusses the problem of side underride:
It’s one of the most devastating traffic accidents: A car slams into the side of a tractor-trailer and crashes underneath and where most of its many safety features like airbags and other sensors are rendered worthless. As a result, the top of the vehicle may be sheared off; in many cases, the occupants are fatally injured.
NBC News received a letter from the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association about the Today Show investigative report on Side Underride. After further investigation, NBC News added this to their article on the report:
Update and correction: After the publication of our story, we received a letter from the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA), which argues that our report overstated the simplicity of the side guard fix and that prototypes have been technical and commercial failures. TTMA made the same argument to NHTSA in a letter we referenced in our report, which you can read here. They also told us that TTMA has not made any political donations to lawmakers on the issue of side underrides, including to Senator Thune. In response to other points made by TTMA, we have updated our online report with TTMA’s response that guards in Europe are focused on protecting bicyclists and pedestrians, not automobiles and that NTSB said injuries and deaths “could” be reduced by side guards, instead of “would.” We also have updated campaign finance data, broken out donations from the trucking sector of the transportation industry, and corrected the period during which those donations were made.
I previously wrote about the TTMA’s May 13, 2016 letter to NHTSA about side guards. Read it here.
Despite the TTMA’s objections to the report, the fact remains that almost as many people die from side underride crashes each year as from rear underride crashes. And, furthermore, I have seen with my own eyes the difference that side guards can make in stopping deadly underride.
Will we let the technical and commercial failures of side guard prototypes in the past stop us from keeping at the task of solving this problem? I thank God for people like Aaron Kiefer and Perry Ponder who have kept at it until they successfully proved what human ingenuity could do to save lives.
Note: In fact, Europe’s side guard standards are designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists — which the U.S. should do, too! But Europe does not require the prevention of cars from underriding trucks. I have been in communication with a global automotive regulation specialist, and I hope that what happens here in the U.S. will have a ripple effect globally.
Great progress is being made in underride protection on the sides of large trucks in the month of January 2017. While Aaron Kiefer is preparing for a crash test of his innovative TrailerSafe System side/rear guard on January 20 in North Carolina, Airflow Deflector tested Perry Ponder’s Angel Wing side guard design in New York.
The Angel Wing crash test was declared a success: the side guard prevented the side of the trailer from going past the windshield thus promising protection from Passenger Compartment Intrusion (PCI). In other words, it is likely that, due to the side guard in combination with the crashworthiness of the car, no one would have been killed or seriously injured by the collision between the side of this truck and a smaller passenger vehicle.
Side underride is not a new problem. For too long, nothing has been done about it. Yet here are two unique and innovative solutions to protect us from deadly side underride. Two Life-Savers.
I count myself privileged to be cheering these innovative and compassionate engineers on in their important work which will save countless lives. Now, here’s to getting these marvelous inventions onto the trucks we all drive around each day. . .