Underride Guards

In order to gain a basic understanding of the deadly but preventable truck underride problem, a compilation of helpful resources is provided below.

A complete list of posts on Understanding Underride can be found here:

The STOP Underrides! Act of 2017 will get the ball rolling so that creative engineers can put effective underride protection on every truck — resulting in more truck crash  survivors who can live to see another day.

This bill has been drafted by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. On December 12, 2017, Senator Gillibrand, Senator Rubio, and Congressman Steve Cohen will be introducing it in Congress.  They are all seeking Republican co-sponsors for this long-overdue, life-saving legislation.

Beginning on December 11, 2017, please SIGN & SHARE the STOP Underrides! Bill Petition: COMING SOON!

On October 12, 2017, staff from Congressional Offices gathered to hear presentations from five experts on the topic of truck underride to better understand the need for the STOP Underrides! bill. The presentations were followed by a question & answer period as legislative staff sought to understand the problem and solutions of deadly but preventable underride crashes.

The presentations can be found here: Underride Briefing on The Hill; Video Excerpts of Panel Discussion on October 12

WUSA9 recently began an extensive investigation into truck underride. The segments which have already aired are listed here. They plan to shed light on the problem until it is adequately addressed in this country.

Senator Gillibrand questions FHWA nominee Paul Trombino about truck underride at Energy & Public Works Committee Hearing on October 5, 2017:

Matt Brumbelow, Sr. Research Engineer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, discusses side underride & guards in a radio interview:  https://soundcloud.com/1070wina/matthew-brumbelow

IIHS co-hosted the Second Underride Roundtable with the Truck Safety Coalition and AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety at their Vehicle Research Center, on August 29, 2017.                                    Media Coverage of the Second Underride Roundtable

Another series of posts on underride is titled Underride 101:

Truck Underride 101: Discussion Topics

I. When Will We Tackle Truck Underride?

Truck Underride 101: I. When Will We Tackle Truck Underride?

II. Why Comprehensive Underride Protection? 

Truck Underride 101: II. Why Comprehensive Underride Protection?

III. Cost Benefit Analysis, Underride Rulemaking, and Vision Zero

 Truck Underride 101: Part III. Cost Benefit Analysis, Underride Rulemaking, and Vision Zero

IV. Win/Win

Truck Underride 101: Part IV Win/Win

V. Bipartisan Discussion of Legislative Strategy

Truck Underride 101: Part V. Bipartisan Discussion of Legislative Strategy

Update on March 1, 2017: Toughguard IIHS announces a Award presented to 5 trailer manufacturers which have strengthened their rear underride guard.

Update on February 7, 2017: See the investigative report by the Today Show on side underride Side Underride Problem & Solutions Featured on The Today Show, as well as other posts on side guards.

Update on December 24, 2016: the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Underride Test Protocol is now published on the Federal Register at this link: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Underride Test Protocol

Stoughton improved underride guards–standard “at no cost or weight penalty.”

Efforts in 2016 to improve underride prevention:

  • International Call for Underride Research Re: Injury Prevention & Energy Absorption Issues I put together another request for underride design proposals. I would like to be a little bit more specific and put out a call for research and data to put to rest, once and for all, the controversy over underride guard rigidity/strength and the potential for unintended injuries from too rigid guards. I would like to see it result in data which could lead to design of the best possible underride protection and practical solutions for underride guards to incorporate energy absorption components where appropriate.
  • Knights of the Underride Roundtable: Finding Some Common Ground to Protect Travelers! On June 24, 12 people from diverse backgrounds met around a table at the IIHS offices in Arlington, Virginia, to continue the good work begun at the Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016. This time, we rolled up our sleeves and hammered out a written recommendation for better rear underride guard requirements for tractor-trailers. To save lives.

On May 5, 2016, over 65 representatives from the trucking industry, government, safety advocates, engineers, crash reconstructionists, attorneys, and media met at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center to discuss and demonstrate truck underride crashes.

Media Coverage of the event: Media Coverage of the first Truck Underride Roundtable held at IIHS on May 5, 2016

Webcast Link to the Underride Roundtable/archived here: Webcast Link for Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Underride Roundtable

Underride Roundtable Agenda May 5, 2016

Truck Underride is also addressed in our Vision Zero Petition Book 3rd Edition

Underride Guard Fact Sheet

An underride guard, currently required on most motor carriers, is fastened below the bed of the trailer. Its purpose is to prevent a car from riding under the truck in the event of a collision. In the case of our crash, as all too often happens, the guard did not hold up and the rear of our vehicle went under the truck.

Before & After Photos

Photo: Our truck crash with rear underride, May 4, 2013: AnnaLeah & Mary were in the backseat, when our car was pushed backward under the tractor-trailer by another truck,  and they did not survive.

This post summarizes our efforts in the aftermath of the crash to bring about a National Vision Zero Goal–moving our country closer to reducing crash deaths and serious injuries: Are you aware that Death by Motor Vehicle is one of the leading causes of death?

We witnessed some crash tests on March 12, 2016, in North Carolina: Witnessed safety defect in action at underride crash tests; this is what snuffed out my daughters’ lives.

Past news: We looked forward to the first Underride Roundtable at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Virginia: Underride Roundtable Registration Now Open: May 5, 2016 at IIHS Vehicle Research Center

Media information about underride guards:

Federal Rulemaking Status on Rear Underride for Single Unit Trucks at DOT (NHTSA):  http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201504&RIN=2127-AL57 & http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eoDetails?rrid=125236

Public Comments on Rear Underride Protection for Single Unit Trucks (ANPRM):  http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;dct=FR+PR+N+O+SR;rpp=10;po=0;D=NHTSA-2015-0070

Rulemaking Status on Rear Underride for Trailers:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0118

Public Comments on Rear Underride for Trailers:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=0;D=NHTSA-2015-0118

See posts on this website about underride guards: http://annaleahmary.com/tag/underride-guards/

IIHS Status Reports with articles on underride guards:

Our website to support underride research: AnnaLeah & Mary For Truck Safety: Save Lives

Other articles & information about underride guards:

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance ” supports requiring NHTSA to develop updated standards for rear impact guards and rear end protection. ”  http://cvsa.org/reauthorization/crashworthiness.php

Byron Bloch interviewed on underride: Byron Bloch | Fighting to Ensure Safer Vehicles

NHTSA reports on underride guards: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Research/Crashworthiness/Truck%20Underride

Helpful information about underride guards can be found at the Underride Network website, which has accumulated years of research and safety advocacy efforts related to underride guards: http://www.underridenetwork.org/

News report on underride, from Call 6 investigator, Kara Kenney:  http://www.theindychannel.com/news/call-6-investigators/mother-loses-daughters-raises-truck-underride-concerns

Jim Strickland’s (consumer investigator) report on underride guards,  our crash, and the AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition was on WSB-TV Atlanta’s evening news, August 1, 2014,  in two parts first at 4:45 p.m. and the second part at 6:15 p.m.:  http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/families-seek-reduce-fatal-tractor-trailer-acciden/ngtnD/   and http://tinyurl.com/nzpbqt6

Jeremy Finley, investigative reporter from Nashville, TN, WSMV.com, reported on our crash  & NHTSA’s proposed rulemaking on tractor-trailers rear underride guards on January 21, 2016:
WSMV Channel 4

Read his report here: http://www.wsmv.com/story/31026756/nthsa-aims-to-strengthen-safety-devices-that-have-failed-in-deadly-crashes

In addition, Jerry and I were invited to tour the research facility of one of the major trailer manufacturers, Great Dane, in June 2014. After our visit, I wrote a post and created a Youtube video to summarize my reactions. My thoughts are expressed below and are also published as a YouTube video–which can be found at the end:

“I find myself in the unenviable position of speaking up on behalf of all travelers on the road who are vulnerable and could—when they least expect it—become the next victim of an underride crash.

Jerry and I had the opportunity, on June 25, to tour the Research & Design Center of Great Dane, a trailer manufacturer. As their guests, we were able to spend the entire morning hearing about what they are doing with regard to quality control and safety, including underride guards which they voluntarily produce to meet or even exceed Canadian standards—thus surpassing current U.S. federal standards. We were able to ask questions and share our concerns about the inadequate federal standards for underride guards (otherwise known as rear impact guards).

We are perhaps better suited to ask those questions than just about anyone. After all, we had two daughters die because the car they were in rode under the back of a semitrailer .”

Continue reading here:  http://annaleahmary.com/2014/06/underride-guards-can-we-sit-down-at-the-table-together-and-work-this-out/


From that post: “The history of Federal rulemaking on truck underride guards:

  • 1953 Interstate Commerce Commission adopts rule requiring rear underride guards on trucks and trailers but sets no strength requirements.
  • 1967 National Highway Safety Bureau (NHSB), predecessor to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), indicates it will develop a standard for truck underride guards.
  • 1969 NHSB indicates it will conduct research on heavy vehicle underride guard configurations to provide data for the preparation of a standard. In the same year the Federal Highway Administration publishes a proposal to require trailers and trucks to have strong rear-end structures extending to within 18 inches of the road surface.
  • 1970 NHSB says it would be “impracticable” for manufacturers to engineer improved underride protectors into new vehicles before 1972. The agency considers an effective date of January 1, 1974 for requiring underride guards with energy-absorbing features as opposed to rigid barriers.
  • 1971 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends that NHTSA require energy-absorbing underride and override barriers on trucks, buses, and trailers. Later in the same year NHTSA abandons its underride rulemaking, saying it has “no control over the vehicles after they are sold” and “it can only be assumed that certain operators will remove the underride guard.” The Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety (BMCS), predecessor to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, considers a regulatory change that would prohibit alteration of manufacturer-installed equipment. This would nullify the major reason NHTSA cited for abandoning the proposed underride standard.
  • 1972 NTSB urges NHTSA to renew the abandoned underride proposal.
  • 1974 US Secretary of Transportation says deaths in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost beneficial.
  • 1977 IIHS testifies before the Consumer Subcommittee of the US Senate Commerce Committee, noting that devices to stop underride have been technologically available for years. IIHS tests demonstrate that a crash at less than 30 mph of a subcompact car into a guard meeting current requirements results in severe underride. IIHS also demonstrates the feasibility of effective underride guards that do not add significant weight to trucks. IIHS petitions NHTSA to initiate rulemaking to establish a rear underride standard. The agency agrees to reassess the need for such a standard and later in the year announces plans to require more effective rear underride protection. BMCS publishes a new but weak proposal regarding underride protection.
  • 1981 NHTSA issues a proposal to require upgraded underride protection.
  • 1986 IIHS study reveals that rear guards designed to prevent cars from underriding trucks appear to be working well on British rigs.
  • 1987 European underride standard is shown to reduce deaths caused by underride crashes.
  • 1996 NHTSA finally issues a new standard, effective 1998.”

IIHS, 2009

2 thoughts on “Underride Guards

  1. We have been doing underride for a decade and have done 4 national news pieces on underride guards, we have dealt with top guard researchers around the world. Why were we not contacted and why no links? We have outlined why the Canadian guard standard is only a 30mph standard and does not protect against severe offset impacts like the one that killed my wife Tamara. You and other victims are welcome to come to our website and do some research before you comment on a new standard, we believe educated victims are the most powerful voice, that is why we have maintained the site for a decade. We must not push for a standard that is equal to pre-1992 science.

    Thanks for listening

  2. Yes, a brick wall will stop the car and prevent PCI or passenger compartment intrusion. It will also allow the human bodies to absorb some of the crash energy possibly causing severe injury and death. IIHS has been supporting low-speed crash testing and pushing the low-speed successes of stiff guard designs as has NHTSA in crash testing at 30 mph for fifty years. Energy absorbing guards absorb the crash energy causing less energy to be absorbed by the passengers of the cars and allow trailer frames to support much higher crash speeds. Proper design of guards should allow crash speeds of 60 mph and more to be survivable for little cost and might even end the insurance industry, a possible result of smart cars and switching the cost of crashes to the vehicle manufacturers by some sort of crash fee fund to reimburse crash victims for some of their financial losses. There will be winners and losers in the new safety and advocates will be taking sides based on their own interests.

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