Update on Underride News

A quick look at important information on our effort to STOP underride tragedies:

  1. NTSB Published a Preliminary Report on the March 2019 Tesla Side Underride Fatal Crash The National Transportation Safety Board, on May 16, 2019, released a Preliminary Report on the March 1, 2019, Tesla side underride fatal crash. Read it here: Highway Preliminary Report: HWY19FH008 Read more here.
  2. Media Reports & Video Footage Unveil Highlights of the Successful D.C. Underride Crash Test Event If you were not able to witness the Underride Crash Tests in D.C. in person on March 26, then the next best thing is to see the media coverage of this important event and to view the video footage of all three tests of a car colliding at approximately 30 mph with the side of a tractor-trailer. . . Read more here.
  3. Video of the Underride Panel Discussion at the D.C. Underride Crash Test Event, March 26, 2019 Safety engineers and professionals share their knowledge and thoughts in a Panel Discussion on the underride issue at the D.C. Underride Crash Test Event on March 26, 2019. . . Read more here.
  4. Ask The Trucker “LIVE” w/Allen Smith: The Stop Underrides Act- Requiring front, side & rear underguards Allen and Donna Smith, trucker advocates, host the Ask the Trucker Radio Talk Show. Underride was discussed on the show in March 2018 and again on April, 27, 2019. We appreciate their open mind and willingness to draw attention to this issue and foster open and honest conversation with truck drivers. Listen in here:The Stop Underride Act- Requiring front, side & rear underguards on large trucks Read more here.
  5. As a trucking company owner, executive, or driver, what keeps you awake at night? One of the presenters at a recent NTSB webinar, “Collision Avoidance Technologies – Why You Need Them in Your Trucks Today!”, was Robert Maag, the VP of Operations for a small trucking company, Perfect Transportation. He had some wise advice for trucking companies related to investment in safety for a fleet:Investment in the front end can be extremely minimal in proportion to what could be at risk at the back end. . . Read more here .
  6. “Words without facts” is Propaganda “There is no trucker who would want to be a part of a tragic under-ride crash and there is no just-lawmaker who would feel content with having the opportunity to do something and remain silent and out of the conversation.”That’s what I read in a recent blogpost. If only the trucking industry would recognize that fact, re-examine some of their wrong-headed thinking, and get behind the win/win STOP Underrides! Bill.I’d like to take a stab at correcting some of the misunderstanding floating around out there about the STOP Underrides! Bill. I’m concerned that “words without facts,” if left unchallenged, is propaganda with power to confuse the uninformed. . . Read more here.
  7. It’s going to take an act of Congress to end underride once and for all. Congress needs to wake up and understand that NHTSA has not responded to underride safety recommendations or petitions from NTSB or IIHS for decades. More recommendations from the GAO is not likely to do the trick. We have three branches of government for a reason, and part of the role of Congress is to say: do this or do that. . . Read more here.
  8. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Truck Underride Report Published After a Year-Long Investigation After the STOP Underrides Bill was first introduced on December 12, 2017, several members of Congress –Senators Thune, Rubio, Burr, and Gillibrand — requested that the Government Accountability Office prepare a report on truck underride guards. That report was published today and can be found hereThe online report is organized into sections, including Fast Facts, Highlights, and Recommendations. The GAO Recommendations are. . . Read more (including Karth Cliff Notes on the GAO Truck Underride Report) here.
  9. How you can help us STOP underride deaths & injuries: Sign & Share our Petition to tell Congress, Act Now To End Deadly Truck Underride! Find it here. Call &/or email your U.S. legislators. Ask them to co-sponsor and pass the STOP Underrides! Act (Senate Bill S.665 and House Bill HR.1511). Find their information here.
  10. Overlooked Vulnerabilities in Truck Crashes: Damage to Steering Mechanism & Fuel Tank Being a passionate advocate for making truck crashes more survivable, I signed up for Google Alerts on truck crashes. Every night I get an email notifying me of truck crashes across the country. Mostly I look for evidence of underride. But I have noticed the frequency of truck crashes that involve fire. Why is that? Read more here .
  11. “It’s a crossroad. Are we going to let more people continue to die or act decisively to save lives?” WRAL Raleigh, April 10, 2019
    By Rick Armstrong, producer, and Kathryn Brown, anchor/reporter
    ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — A mother is warning all drivers to keep a safe distance from large trucks on roads and highways after a tragic crash in Georgia caused her car to go underneath a truck — leading to the deaths of her two daughters. Read more here.
  12. Compelling Documentary Tells the Stories of Underride Victims: Save Lives – STOP Underrides! We are thankful to Cool Breeze Studio for creating this recently-released underride documentary — telling the stories of underride victims to shed light on this preventable problem. . . See it here.
  13. Back-of-the-Envelope Math for Underride Protection Retrofit Cost/Trailer Equation Let’s do some simple back-of-the-envelope math. How much would it cost to retrofit a trailer? The current estimated cost would be. . . So, for $0.62 per day, the trailer owner has the following benefits. . . Read more here .
  14. A Mom’s Response to the OOIDA Letter of Opposition to the Life-preserving #STOPUnderrides! Bill The STOP Underrides! Bill was re-introduced into Congress on March 5, 2019. On March 7, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote a letter of opposition and sent it to the bill’s sponsors.The following is a combination of the OOIDA letter (bolded) and my response. . .   Find it here.

Underride Retrofit; or, What is an acceptable number of underride deaths?

If there are people dying from an automotive defect, would we want those cars to be fixed or left as is? If there are people dying from a dangerous truck design, would we want those trucks to be fixed or left as is — knowing that if we leave the millions of trucks on the roads as is, we are sentencing countless people to death by underride?

Is there any precedent for issuing a recall on unsafe trucks, in other words, doing a retrofit of safety equipment on an existing truck? I’m glad you asked. Yes, there is.

The first one I’ll mention is conspicuity or reflective tape. NHTSA issued a mandate for retro reflective tape to be installed on trucks and trailers to increase their visibility to nearby motorists. FMCSA issued a mandate for retrofitting of existing trucks and trailers with this safety countermeasure.

These requirements were set up by the FMCSA to help improve visibility in low light conditions and help reduce potentially fatal motor vehicle crashes into the sides or back of stopped or parked trucks and tractor trailers at night or in poor visibility.

On December 10, 1992, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA published a final rule requiring that trailers manufactured on or after December 1, 1993, which have an overall width of 80 inches or more and a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds, (with the exception of pole trailers and trailers designed exclusively for living or office use) be equipped on the sides and rear with a means for making them more visible on the road. The NHTSA ruling allows trailer manufacturers to install either red and white retro reflective tape or sheeting or reflex reflectors. This tape is commonly referred to as DOT C2 reflective tape and is thus marked for easy identification. https://ifloortape.com/requirements-for-conspicuity-dot-c2-reflective-tape-for-trucks-tractor-trailers-to-meet-federal-dot-fmcsa-nhtsa-regulations/

RETROFIT requirement for retro reflective tape on tractor trailers: Under federal requirements, trailers and semi-trailers manufactured prior to December 1, 1993 must be retrofitted with retroreflective tape or an array of reflex reflectors. The final date for compliance is June 1, 2001. . . Trailers built after the 1993 date are delivered from the factory with reflective tape and do not need to be retrofitted. Bulk Transporter, March 22, 2001, Deadline Approaches for Reflective Tape Retrofit

Another example of a retrofit involving tractor trailers, or in this case a recall, is the Strick Trailers recall of faulty rear impact guards in 2016:

Strick Trailers is recalling certain single-axle 28-foot van trailers for a rear-impact guard issue, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration document. More specifically, 2005-2009 van trailers manufactured July 25, 2004, to Feb. 3, 2009, and equipped with rear-impact guards using gussets 55997 and 55998 are affected. Gussets on affected trailers can increase the chances of injury during a crash, thereby violating Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 223, “Rear Impact Guards.” Owners will be notified by Strick to have reinforcements installed to the rear-impact guards at no cost. For more information, contact Strick’s customer service at 260-692-6121. The recall was set to begin on June 17.

Side by side with the notice of the Strick recall in the Landline Magazine in May 2016 was another notice announcing that the FMCSA had issued a safety advisory for one manufacturer’s tankers due to “inadequate accident damage protection:”

Affected TYTAL tankers are unauthorized, according to the FMCSA, until repairs and testing have been completed. Effective June 1, enforcement and fines will be given to owners and drivers operating any of the above tankers that have not made necessary repairs. TYTAL has notified known customers, and repairs have begun free of charge.

It seems to me that these examples demonstrate the existence of a precedent for recalls and retrofitting rules to correct dangerous designs in Commercial Motor Vehicles which could, if uncorrected, result in death and/or injury in the event of a crash.

Clearly, a truck that does not have effective and comprehensive underride protection is a safety concern. After all, the warning label which is found on the horizontal bar of a rear underride guard specifically says so:

Failure to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act Standards FMVSS 223/224 (US) or FMVSS 223 (Canada) could result in injury to occupants of another vehicle in the event of a rear end collision with the trailer which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.

Who will pay for the cost of the retrofitting? The ATA made the assertion, in their Letter of Opposition, that if Congress mandated the STOP Underrides Act — which includes a retrofitting requirement — then the trucking industry would be put out of business and the U.S. economy would be adversely affected:

Equipping the estimated 12 million trailers with a side underride guard, identified in Mr. Young’s testimony as costing approximately $2,900 including shipping, would equate to approximately $34.8 billion spent on underride guards. That staggering figure would result in what is likely the largest unfunded mandate on a private sector industry in U.S. history. Furthermore, when combined with the expected cost of labor in installing these guards, would exceed the industry’s annual net revenue, essentially putting trucking out of business, and grinding our economy to a screeching halt.

ATA Stop Underrides Act Follow Up Opposition Letter 6.19.19

RESPONSE to ATA Stop Underrides Opposition Letter

On what basis (what facts and formula) do they make such an exaggerated claim? The fact is that mass production will bring the costs down from the current price of retrofit kits (now at very low voluntary production). Furthermore, the industry should be well aware that adjustments can be made to spread the cost over multiple parties and multiple years.

Take as an example the increased manufacturing costs of trailers due to the tarriff on aluminum and steel and the ability of the manufacturers to share those costs with their customers.

Besides which, there are numerous other reasons to expect that this mandate provides many benefits to the trucking industry and the U.S. economy, including protecting the livelihood of truck drivers. Side guards will add additional fuel savings to that provided by side skirts. Production and installation of this technology will create jobs. Liability risk will go down. IRS Section 179 allows for tax deduction for equipment.

In the end, if we do not retrofit, there will continue to be many underride deaths for years to come. We then have to face the question, What is the acceptable number of underride deaths? And, who should decide that question? Congress, the ball is in your court.

Rebuttal to Concerns Raised By the ATA About Proposed Underride Legislation

From the very beginning of our journey to make truck crashes more survivable with the installation of effective underride protection, we have been reaching out to members of the trucking industry — manufacturers, transport companies, truck drivers, industry associations, and engineers among others. We have found some who are cooperative and many who are committed to working on solutions. However, we have also observed a reluctance to move forward with R&D — not to mention installation of solutions.

Beyond industry hesitation, we have also read about and listened to outright opposition. While I appreciate that they would find it important to express concerns they might have about the legislation and the technology, I do not find it helpful if their statements are not backed up with facts or documentation — especially when there is little openness to sit down together and discuss how to address those concerns collaboratively.

I remain hopeful that we can yet reach that point where we will be able to hold conversations through the process laid out in the STOP Underrides Act for a Committee On Underride Protection. It holds the potential for cooperation, transparency, and accountability which could help us reach the goal of ending preventable death by underride in a timely fashion.

Meanwhile, because I have been unable to get them to participate in a meeting to discuss these concerns, I am going to share two documents here:

  1. A letter which the American Trucking Associations emailed to Members of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s Highway & Transit Subcommittee on June 19, 2019, following the trucking hearing on June 12, 2019. The ATA letter outlines their concerns about, and opposition to, the STOP Underrides! Act. ATA Stop Underrides Act Follow Up Opposition Letter 6.19.19
  2. A rebuttal to that letter — detailing what we have discovered over the last several years regarding those concerns. RESPONSE to ATA Stop Underrides Opposition Letter

May we allow nothing to interfere with reaching the goal of protecting all travelers from the unimaginable injuries and grief which all too often come about when we don’t equip our trucks with underride protection so that passenger vehicles and vulnerable road users cannot go under them.

Rose, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Underride Legislation Discussed at T&I Hearing on The State of Trucking In America

At last, truck underride was brought to the table at the June 12, 2019, Transportation & Infrastructure Hearing entitled, Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Chair of the Highways & Transit Subcommittee, mentioned underride in her opening remarks (at 6:59 in this video):

Truck safety advocate, Andy Young, also talked about underride in both his written and verbal testimony to the Subcommittee members.

In this video excerpt, Chris Spear (ATA) makes a statement (at 1:09.48) in the hearing about his understanding that side guards have only been tested at 35 mph (not true):

Andy Young corrects that information (at 3:22.15 in the hearing video) and mentions that the AngelWing side guards have been successfully tested at the Second Underride Roundtable on August 29, 2017, at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) at 40 mph:

The AngelWing side guards have also been successfully tested elsewhere at 47.2 mph:

Congressman Steve Cohen, who led the way in the House when he re-introduced the STOP Underrides Act on March 5, 2019, also spoke about underride:

The truth about truck underride should speak for itself. For too many decades, the facts have been hidden; motorists and vulnerable road users have not been adequately protected from becoming underride victims.

Enough is enough! Congress, the ball is in your court. It’s time to act.

28,362 Underride Deaths Valued at $273 Billion Far Surpasses the Cost to Industry of Underride Protection

People Care About the STOP Underrides! Bill For a Good Reason

* DOT FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) data is known to yield vastly underreported deaths.

IIHS 1992 Status Report: Underride Death Count Too Low

** 1997 study said that the deaths attributed to underride as reported by the FARS are 4% of total truck crash fatalities. Other studies suggest that 27-50% would be more accurate. Incidence of Large Truck-Passenger Vehicle Underride Crashes in Fatal Accident Reporting System and National Accident Sampling System

# Underride Deaths in 1994-2015* (FARS data) = 4,201 

Take those 4,201 deaths which represent 4% of the total truck crash deaths reported by FARS to be due to underride. Convert it to a more realistic estimate of 27% of truck crash deaths which are likely due to underride. That would be 28,362 people who died between 1994 and 2015 due to preventable truck underride.


Now let’s take that one step further. Multiply those 28,362 underride deaths by $9.6 million — the DOT Value of a Statistical Life. That equals $272,275,200,000!

That value represents our loved ones and members of our communities who lost their lives abruptly and violently due to underride. (And that isn’t even taking into account the thousands upon thousands who were injured due to Passenger Compartment Intrusion.)

The cost of implementing the STOP Underrides! Bill will not even come close to reaching such a costly price  as that which has already been paid.

Successful 40 mph Crash Test of Sapa Extrusions Aluminum Rear Underride Guard

Malcolm Deighton, inventor of the SAPA rear underride guard, discusses how they tested their aluminum guard successfully at 35 mph and then at 40 mph.

You can see the 40 mph crash test at about 5:36 on this video:

Here is the engineering report on that crash testing: Sapa 40-30 RIG Test Engineering Report Version 1.3 (1)

Rear Underride Guard Facts:

  1. The current federal standard for rear impact guards has specifications for preventing underride at impact speeds of 30 mph (though not requiring a crash test).
  2. The proposed standard in limbo at NHTSA now would upgrade it to 35 mph to meet the Canadian standard (although most manufacturers are already meeting the Canadian standard). However, the NPRM and the Canadian standard do not require that the guards stop a vehicle for the full width of the guard. That’s what the IIHS has proven with their crash testing program.
  3. The IIHS has tested the new designs of the 8 major trailer manufacturers and given them each a TOUGHGuard Award for being able to pass a crash test at 35 mph across the full width of the back of the trailer.
  4. These stronger guards are being sold on new trailers — some as a standard feature and some as an Option.
  5. There are retrofit kits which can be installed on existing trailers to provide TOUGHGuard quality underride protection at the rear of trailers. There have been very few of these sold — a mere drop in the bucket compared to the 11 million+ trailers on the road which have the older, too weak rear guards.
  6. Additionally, Sapa Extrusions (now Hydro), an aluminum extrusion company, has designed an aluminum rear underride guard which has been successfully tested at 40 mph. Since this is now known to be possible, why would we not mandate a standard which would require this amount of protection at minimum?
  7. The STOP Underrides! Bill calls for research to be completed to ascertain the outer limits of underride protection — so we know what level of protection can reasonably be required.
  8. The STOP Underrides! Bill also calls for establishment of a Committee On Underride Protection to facilitate collaborative and effective discussion among all stakeholders.

Subcommittee on Highways & Transit Hearing: “Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America,” 6/12/19

The Highways & Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will be holding a hearing on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at 10:00 a.m.

The hearing will be livestreamed and can be viewed at this link: “Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America”.

I will be attending and am looking forward to observing a lively discussion, including the previously-overlooked topic of truck underride.

NTSB Published a Preliminary Report on the March 2019 Tesla Side Underride Fatal Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board, on May 16, 2019, released a Preliminary Report on the March 1, 2019, Tesla side underride fatal crash. Read it here: Highway Preliminary Report: HWY19FH008

In summary, the report says:

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues to gather information on the operation of the Tesla’s ADAS and the Tesla driver’s actions leading up to the crash. The investigation will also examine the driver of the combination vehicle, the motor carrier, highway factors, and survival factors. All aspects of the crash remain under investigation as the NTSB determines the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes. The NTSB is working in partnership with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office during the investigation.

Previous posts on this website related to Tesla side underride crashes:

D.C. Side Underride Crash Tests, March 26, 2019 — with and without side guards:

More D.C. crash test videos can be seen here.

The STOP Underrides! Act mandates comprehensive underride protection on all large trucks. This will make truck crashes more survivable.

As a mom of two daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), who died from a truck underride crash in Georgia on May 4, 2013,  I know the life & death difference that strong underride guards can make (but only if they are installed on the millions of trucks on our roads) — as demonstrated by these crash test videos: The difference a well-designed rear underride guard can make and Benefits of side underride guards for semitrailers and Truck Front Underrun Protection System Crash.

People have died from truck underride for decades and will continue to do so if we do not take decisive action to make trucks safer to be around.

Summary & Comments on the GAO Truck Underride Report

This brochure summarizes the findings and recommendations of the Government Accountability Office Truck Underride Guards Report:

GAO Truck Underride Report Brochure

Meanwhile, people continue to die from underride crashes at the front, side, and rear of trucks, while viable and practical technology exists or could quickly be available to install on trucks to save lives — if Congress would only say the word.

It would have been helpful if either the trucking industry stakeholders, NHTSA, or the GAO team would have spelled out precisely what they mean by “effectiveness” of side guards. What more are they looking for to prove that they are effective than the crash testing which has been conducted at IIHS (on March 30 & 31, 2017) and at the DC Underride Crash Test (on March 26, 2019)?

NHTSA has not yet done anything with the side underride research they have already completed. What guarantee do we have that they will do anything with further research unless mandated to do so?

It seems clear to me that the 219 annual underride deaths already-documented warrant the development of standards for implementation of comprehensive underride protection as outlined in the STOP Underrides! Bill. However, DOT has demonstrated that they have no intention of issuing rulemaking without a mandate which would force them to do so.

It will take an Act of Congress to make this happen.

Marianne Karth, May 12, 2019

How Underride Protection Could Prevent Fiery Crashes & Make Truck Crashes More Survivable

Lately, I have been thinking more and more about how often fiery truck crashes occur and whether comprehensive underride protection (CUP) could reduce the chance that a fire will occur when there is a collision between a truck and a smaller passenger vehicle. I am convinced that CUP (front, side, rear) could help to make truck crashes more survivable in so many ways — including protecting vulnerable areas under the two vehicles:

  1. The truck’s steering mechanism so that the truck driver can better stay in control during a collision.
  2. Gas tanks so that they do not rupture and create conditions for fire to erupt.

See the email below. And consider how the recent April 25, 2019, deadly truck crash in Colorado might have turned out differently. https://q13fox.com/2019/04/27/truck-driver-closed-his-eyes-in-fear-moments-before-deadly-colorado-pileup-crash/

I know that people will talk about collision avoidance technologies as a solution. But I think that it needs to be both/and. I have been studying what I can find out about that crash and it seems to me that the truck driver may have been in a situation where he lost the power to brake and CA would not change that. I had that happen to me in about 1987 or so. I was driving a Suburban pulling a camper on the expressway and suddenly realized that I had lost the ability to brake. I finally was able to pull into a gas station and turn the vehicle off and it turned out okay. But it was TERRIFYING. I felt so out of control. Imagine that truck driver.



p.s. Please support the STOP Underrides! Bill and make truck crashes more survivable!


———- Forwarded message ———
From: Marianne Karth <mariannekarth@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Apr 12, 2019 at 11:13 PM
Subject: Fiery truck crashes and Front Underride/Override Protection
To: Matthew Brumbelow  @iihs.org>


Have you ever studied fiery truck crashes and the factors which lead to that outcome?

I’ve been thinking about that question a lot because I receive Google Alert Notifications of truck crashes and see so many fiery crashes. It made me think of what I have learned by delving into the topic of front underride/override protection. I know that the FUP not only protects the passenger vehicle, but it also protects the steering mechanism of the truck — enabling the truck driver to stay more in control in a collision. and. . .  the fuel tank.


p.s. It drives me up a wall that the industry and government just ignore the possibility that head on collisions and rear ending of cars by trucks, etc., could be mitigated. Putting all their eggs into the basket of  changing driver behavior and collision avoidance technology. Do we believe in a SAFE SYSTEM approach or don’t we?



Offset front underrun in head on crashes where the light vehicle is likely to collide with the steer axle and compromise the heavy vehicles steering, and/or the underrun leads to heavy intrusion of the cabin space by the heavy vehicle structure.

Front underrun in truck into car crashes where the underrun can:
rotate the light vehicle downwards and lead to the heavy vehicle running over the light
vehicle with catastrophic results;
push the petrol tank down and lead to fire when the truck impacts the rear of the light vehicle


But we also get good protection for the components in the lower front part of the coach [where the steering mechanism is]:

See the references to protection from fires by FRONT UNDERRIDE PROTECTION in this eBook: Wheels of Progress?: Motor Transport, Pollution and the Environment

Ask The Trucker “LIVE” w/Allen Smith: The Stop Underrides Act- Requiring front, side & rear underguards

Allen and Donna Smith, trucker advocates, host the Ask the Trucker Radio Talk Show. Underride was discussed on the show in March 2018 and again on April, 27, 2019. We appreciate their open mind and willingness to draw attention to this issue and foster open and honest conversation with truck drivers. Listen in here:

The Stop Underride Act- Requiring front, side & rear underguards on large trucks

We strive for facts & truth rather than talking points. Truckers have valid concerns about underrides and we want to address them. Proponents of underrides also have legitimate concerns for supporting the Stop Underrrides Act. Let’s hear both sides.

Guests on the show:

  • Jerry and Marianne Karth and Lois Durso advocates for Underrides and have lost loved ones due to Underride crashes. These underride deaths were not the fault of either 4 wheeler. One was an improper truck lane change, the other was icy roads.
  • Perry Ponder, inventor of AngelWing, engineer with an accident reconstruction engineering company
  • Aaron Kiefer, forensic engineer & crash reconstructionist, inventor of SafetySkirt
  • Andy Young, CDL holder and truck attorney