Tag Archives: side underride

Truck Side Underride Investigative Report to be aired on The Today Show, 2/7/17 at 7:40 a.m.

NBC News NY has extensively interviewed multiple individuals and organizations on the issue of deadly truck side underride — including a trip to North Carolina last month to film Aaron Kiefer’s side guard crash test. They are now ready to air the story on Tuesday, February 7, at 7:40 a.m. on The Today Show.


Why put rear underride protection on trailers but not Single Unit Trucks? Any underride is deadly.

I ran across a study on underride fatality crashes this morning. I’d read it before but took a lot at it again. +

Then, this afternoon, while in city traffic, I saw an almost-side underride-crash between a car and Single Unit Truck (SUT). And when I arrived at a parking lot later, I saw a wimpy rear underride guard on a SUT.

So, why do we put rear underride guards on trailers but don’t require them on SUTs? (Not even mentioning that the current rear guard requirement is ineffective as written.) And why don’t we require side underride guards on any large trucks?

Truck underride is deadly no matter the truck size or portion of the truck the smaller vehicle rides under.

Trip North May 2015 033underride guards trip to RDU 007

SUT Underride guard Great Dane trip 061

+ For SUTs, the study showed that, “Considering all degrees of underride, trucks with a guard suffered slightly more underride than trucks with no rear-end protection, 69.5% to 66.7%. . . This result is counter to what would be expected, although it may be due to small, sample sizes and a host of other complicating factors. The severity threshold of the TIFA file may serve to decrease variation in the amount of underride by rear-end structure, since a fatality must occur for the crash to be included in the file. It could be that many of the collisions are beyond the design limits of the guards, and so the guards have no effect.” Underride in rear-end fatal truck crashes, Submitted to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, prepared by Daniel Blower Kenneth L. Campbell, The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, October 1999

In other words, the wimpy guards aren’t effective anyway, so even if a SUT has one, the guard usually doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do — which is to prevent deadly underride.

Current rulemaking on underride protection for SUTs is in limbo at NHTSA: ANPRM Underride Protection of Single Unit Trucks

Truck Side Underride: Victims Without a Voice

Sign our Side Guard Petition to let our government leaders and the trucking industry know that you want them to act NOW to SAVE LIVES:


Save Lives

If we do not speak up to prevent this senseless loss of lives,

tell me who will.

Donate to Underride Guard Research: AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety 501(c)(3) website

Other ways you can help.

AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety fundraising goals

Crash Test of Innovative Large Truck Side Guard Could Advance Side Underride Prevention

Crash reconstructionist/forensic engineer Aaron Kiefer continues to develop his ideas for an innovative side/rear underride guard to protect all vulnerable victims from deadly truck underride.

Aaron has identified new materials to make his design stronger, more effective at preventing underride, and user-friendly for the truck drivers. The only thing is that he is doing this work on his own time aside from his regular job of reconstructing crash scenes. He turned to us to ask if we could help him raise some money for his upcoming side guard crash test so that he can prove that his invention will save lives.

You can help Aaron purchase the necessary materials for his next crash test. Our current goal is to raise $3,000* by early next year.

Donate at the ALMFTS website here which our family set up for traffic safety research through our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety.

We received our IRS letter of approval in 2015 and are listed as a non-profit with Guidestar: http://www.guidestar.org/profile/47-4379503


* Crash Test Materials Include the Following:

  • $500 would buy the necessary polyester webbing  (12,000 lb/in), which gives Aaron’s invention unusual strength.
  • $500 more would buy the car to crash —  a Malibu
  • $500 more would buy the rear reinforcement aluminum plate and water jet cutting
  • $500 more would allow Aaron to purchase the aluminum extrusion for reinforcement/rear guard connector
  • $500 additional would pay for the FRP panel (2 x 190 ft rolls). Just today, Aaron had a sample of this plastic panel successfully sewn together with the polyester webbing — a good sign that this design, with these materials, could provide a strong innovative option for side underride protection on large trucks for pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and passenger vehicles.
  • $3,000 TOTAL would allow Aaron to purchase the entire CRASH TEST SET: Panel/webbing/aluminum/assembly/labor (industrial sewing)

Please share this post so others can join in this vital effort to make affordable and effective side guards available to the trucking industry. Thank you!

What Will It Take To Convince US That Side Underride KILLS But Side Guards Save Lives?

The U.S. has studied the problem of deadly side underride for years and yet side underride guards still are not required by a federal regulation. There are some countries which are definitely further along than we are in the process of providing side underride protection on trucks. Here are some posts and articles on the topic of side guards:

  1. Outside Frame Avoids Side Underride Feb 1, 2000 Paul Schenck | Trailer/Body Builders The Safe Liner principle of using outside frame members to act as guard rails was the idea of a safety researcher who has spent a lifetime analyzing vehicle accidents. Dr Karl-Heinz Schimmelpfennig of the engineering firm of Schimmelpfennig and Becke in nearby Munster came up with the concept for the integral safety guard frame and worked with Krone engineers in developing a practical truck trailer with this passive safety restraint.Since last summer, Krone has had five Safe Liners on the road undergoing fleet testing by customers. These outside frame trailers have accumulated 120,000 to 160,000 km (75,000 to 100,000 miles). Another 65 Safe Liners were built in the last half of 1999. Problems have been minimal, Dr Krone says, and fleets are accepting the new concept. Current production is at the rate of two Safe Liners per day (5% of the current production rate of 40 trailers per day). Krone plans to expand this to six per day (15% of daily production) by midyear.The special 38-pallet trailer l5.65-meter (51 feet) that was shown to Chancellor Schroder in June received a good reception in other countries as well. Fleets in Sweden are very interested in the increased productivity. In the Netherlands, a five-truck test under government supervision will investigate whether the longer semitrailer and heavier GVW (60 metric tonnes or 132,000 lb) will actually reduce the number of trucks on the road.Whatever the outcome of the fleet testing of this 38-pallet Safe Liner, the standard-size 34-pallet Safe Liner is already being accepted as a safer vehicle that offers more protection for other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
  2. Jurors Sideswipe Trailer OEMs

     Dec 1, 2000 IT HAS BEEN an autumn of legal wrangling. While most of the nation focused its attention on dimpled chads and manual recounts, a jury in Laredo, Texas, reached a decision that may impact trailer manufacturers like a Palm Beach County voter taking a stab at a butterfly ballot.

    In a nutshell, the jury found that a trailer was defective because it was not equipped with a side underride guard.

  3. Truck Underride Deaths (by type) from DOT Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) 1994-2014 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 1994-2014From 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: End Deadly Truck Side Underride Crashes: Mandate Side Guards

  4. Side Guards: The original intent of NHTSA rulemakers in the 1969 NPRM, Docket No. 1-11; Notice 2
  5. http://annaleahmary.com/tag/side-guards/
  6. Truck Trailer Manufacturers Ass’n “Reminds” NHTSA: Side Guards Are “Not Cost-Effective” Says Who?
  7. What about truck SIDE GUARDS and protection for pedestrians & cyclists?
  9. ‘UNDERGUARD Protection System’ for Trucks, Generally EEC Directive Compliant
  10. Report from Volpe National Transportation Systems Center: “Side Guards Save Lives; A Success Story”
  11. Piercing the Passenger Compartment–Voluntary Efforts to Stop the Horrors of Underride Truck Crashes
  12. Powerful & Informative Case Made for Underride Guard Improvement by Trucker/Attorney
  13. Make your lorry safe for cyclists or pay up, warns Boris
  14. Truck Side Guards Resource Page Side guards have been required standard equipment since the 1980s in the European Union and Japan, and more recently in Brazil. Canada conducted research for a national side guard standard from 2009 to 2013 and also began evaluating the viability of using aerodynamic side skirts for vulnerable road user safety.
  15. Side Guards Safety Work Nets National Tech Transfer AwardA Volpe team that investigated and promoted life-saving truck side guards for municipalities won a national 2016 Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Excellence in Technology Transfer award.Side guards are vehicle-based safety devices that physically cover exposed areas on the side of a truck, shielding vulnerable road users—such as bicyclists and pedestrians—from being swept underneath a truck’s rear wheels. The Cities of New York, Boston, Cambridge, and San Francisco have taken steps to make truck side guards standard equipment on city vehicles.“We were partners in setting up the technology,” said Dr. Alex Epstein, who led the Volpe team. “Together, we enabled its introduction in the U.S. We had the technical knowledge and expertise to inform their efforts, and to connect with vendors and contractors that could build side guards. From the research phase to the implementation phase, it was a close partnership with these municipalities.”Side guards have been required equipment since the 1980s in the European Union and Japan, and recently in Brazil. After side guards were mandated in the United Kingdom, there was a 61 percent drop in bicyclist fatalities and a 20 percent drop in pedestrian fatalities in side-collisions with trucks.
  16. Infographic – Truck Side Guards Save Lives
  17. Truck Side Guard Technical Overview Safety and Operational Considerations Side guards have been required standard equipment since the 1980s in the European Union and Japan, and more recently in Brazil. Canada conducted research for a national side guard standard from 2009 to 2013 and also began evaluating the viability of using aerodynamic side skirts for VRU safety. Reports from that effort and from Dutch research suggest that certain side skirts may provide comparable protection while also potentially reducing fuel consumption by reducing air drag.                                                            Side collisions with large trucks were associated with 111 pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities annually in the U.S., based on 2005-2009 data on single-unit trucks and tractor-trailers. Of the 75 fatal bicyclist crashes per year with large trucks, approximately 50 percent were side impacts.                                                                                        Based on studies conducted in the United Kingdom, side guards are an effective technology for reducing the number of VRU fatalities and the severity of injuries, especially for bicyclists. For example, in the UK, a 61 percent reduction in cyclist fatalities and 20 percent reduction in pedestrian fatalities were reported in sideimpact collisions with trucks following the national side guard mandate. 
  18. NTSB Safety Recommendations to NHTSA regarding side guards for single-unit trucks (July 3, 2013)
  19. NTSB Safety Recommendations to NHTSA regarding side guards for tractor-trailer trucks (April 3, 2014)
  20. Dutch Road Safety Research Institute: Closed Sideguards on Trucks: Less Fuel Consumption for Trucks, Safer Feeling for Vulnerable Road Users
  21. Great Britain Department for Transport: Integrated Safety Guards and Spray Suppression: Final Summary Report
  22. New on the Market: Angel Wing Side Guard Solution To Prevent Truck Underride Deaths & Injuries
  23. Could Tesla crash fatality have been prevented if trucks were required to have #sideguards?
  24. Tesla driver killed in autopilot crash might still be alive if trailers had side underride guards
  25. Potential benefits of underride guards in large truck side crashes.
  26. Krone Trailer
  27. Truck SIDE GUARDS: Let’s get the debate out in the open. Somebody’s life is depending on it. #VRU
  28. http://annaleahmary.com/tag/aaron-kiefer/
  29. Just got home from the latest side guard crash test. Watch it here!

Alex Epstein, Volpe Transportation Center:

Side Guards: Saving Lives, Saving Fuel
Volpe engineer Alex Epstein presents the idea of using side guards as a means to make trucks safer.

Will we finally acknowledge that the lack of side guards on large trucks leads to a sentence of Death by Motor Vehicle for unsuspecting victims year after year? Will we finally decide to take action and do what is technologically possible in installing underride protection on large trucks?

Save Lives




Why rely on driver reaction to avoid truck side underride when a side guard could prevent tragedy?

I just read a very detailed explanation for why a driver might not react in time to avoid riding under the side of a semi-trailer — one without a side guard I might add. Well, that is all very interesting and we might learn something useful from it.

But, why on earth would we rely on driver behavior (especially in such an unexpected scenario) when the installation of a side guard could so easily save the driver’s life?!

Save Lives

Of course, taking a comprehensive approach to safety makes the most sense –one which makes other factors important as well, including:

  • Visibility and conspicuity.
  • Adequate parking for trucks.
  • Making it illegal for trucks to make U-turns.

Either or

Truck Underride Deaths (by type) from DOT Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) 1994-2014

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

Save Lives

Posts on Side Underride

“When Will We Tackle Underride? – The Hidden Dangers in Trucks” Trucks.com Opinion Piece

I enjoyed working with Jerry Hirsch, the editor of Trucks.com, to prepare this fact-based opinion column on the truck underride issue.

When people learned of the recent fatal crash in Florida of a Tesla Model S running in its Autopilot mode, many started questioning the safety of autonomous driving features in the newest cars.

While this is a legitimate topic of debate, for now autonomous driving presents little threat to those on the road. It comes on just a handful of expensive luxury models, and there’s only a small chance that the car driving next to you will have a robot at the controls.

However, the tragic Tesla crash does highlight a real and present highway danger — cars sliding underneath large trucks when vehicles collide. Regardless of who was at fault in the Tesla crash, the driver might have lived if the truck had been required to have side guards that would have prevented the electric sports sedan from wedging underneath the trailer.

I know just how dangerous collisions like this can be.

My youngest daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, died in 2013 in a truck rear underride crash.

Read more here: https://www.trucks.com/2016/08/10/trucks-underride-hidden-danger/, “When Will We Tackle Underride? – The Hidden Dangers in Trucks” by Marianne Karth, August 10, 2016, Trucks.com

If only

You can help. Sign & share our petition asking DOT to mandate side guards on truckshttp://www.thepetitionsite.com/104/026/213/mandate-side-guards-on-large-trucks-to-end-deadly-side-underride-crashes/

Preventing deadly crashes doesn’t require Either crash avoidance Or underride guards but Both/And.

If we can take away anything immediately (while waiting for an in-depth investigative report) from Joshua Brown’s fatal crash with his Tesla, I hope it is the understanding that preventing Death by Underride cannot depend solely on crash avoidance technology. What we should be going for is not either/or but both/and.

The Tesla did not prevent the crash because the side of the truck was too high up to engage/connect with any of the safety technology. Had a side guard — which is not a federal requirement — been on the truck, there might have been no crash or at least no underride. Joshua Brown might still be alive.

This is a clear case where even the most-advanced crash avoidance technology was not able to prevent a tragic underride death. If side guards had been mandated and installed, perhaps the outcome would have been quite different.

There are too many factors and conditions which can result in a collision between a large truck and a smaller passenger vehicle. And without adequate underride protection, the smaller vehicle is going to end up under the larger, too-high truck so that the crashworthy features of the car do not function as intended. The truck then comes into the occupant space [Passenger Compartment Intrusion = PCI] — causing horrific death or serious injuries.

My goodness, it makes me mad just to re-read the posts which I have written over the last three years since our deadly (for those who experienced underride) crash and recall the ongoing attitude of non-responsibility of some parts of the trucking industry to do their part in helping to solve this solvable problem!

I have included the links to those posts along with the beginning paragraphs:

  1. Clarifying the ATA Position on Underride Guards After last week’s announcement by NHTSA of their initiation of the rulemaking process for underride guards, I have had four interviews. So far, I have seen two of the articles and both of them included a statement, obtained from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which disturbed me when I read them. I posted about it and you can read my thoughts here. . .
  2. The Passion of This Safety Advocate It gets really tiresome to hear the trucking industry come up with the same statements time after time after time. Nearly every time I read an article written about our crash, there are the obligatory responses from the trucking industry. Invariably, they try to shift the responsibility off of themselves to make the changes sought after and, instead, bring up some alternative solution to the “problem.” . . .
  3. Truck Underride Roundtable is one week away! May it be sehr gut! On June 25, 2014, after a tour of the research & design center of a truck trailer manufacturer in Georgia, I wrote down these perplexing thoughts about the too-long unresolved underride problem: Now, it is understandable, amid the multitude of demands and the tyranny of the urgent, that—without a ready solution, in fact, one which would require time and money to develop—this problem has not been given much attention. But, if those who bear responsibility for making sure that this problem gets solved (one way or another) had lost two of their beloved children—or any other loved one—I can guarantee you that they would have moved heaven and earth to find a way to prevent underride. . .
  4. 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.” .  .
  5. Tesla crash fatality could have been stopped by side guards. Tell NHTSA to require them on trucks. The U.S. has been talking about the tragedies of side underride and the possibility of using side guards on trucks since 1969. The recent Tesla S underride crash fatality could quite likely have been prevented if there had been a side guard on the tractor-trailer it collided with.So why is NHTSA still not requiring side guards on trucks? Why is the trailer manufacturing industry still opposing them? Why have so many years gone by with needless, preventable deaths continuing to occur? . . .

When we met with DOT in March 2016 to deliver our 20,000+ Vision Zero Petition signatures, Blair Anderson (NHTSA Deputy Administrator at the time,  now US DOT Undersecretary for Policy) smiled when I made the point about not either/or but both/and. He indicated that the Director had just been talking with staff about that very thing.

Let’s hope that this logical line of reasoning is widely understood and serves the purpose of moving both rulemaking and voluntary industry safety advancement full steam ahead.

Both And

Very cool Youtube video of Aaron Kiefer’s innovative side guard with specs, test drive & crash test video.

Very cool Youtube of Aaron Kiefer’s innovative side guard with crash test video.

Stand up and be heard. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people: Tesla crash fatality could have been stopped by side guards. Tell NHTSA to require them on trucks.

Crash test 045 Mandate Side Guards