Getting in a motor vehicle accident with a semi-truck is nothing to take lightly. There is significant risk that someone in a passenger vehicle will suffer serious injury or even die in an accident with a semi-truck. The enormity of the truck compared to the car makes it almost an inevitability.

Safety experts have utilized technology in preventing truck accidents to great success. However, advocates say there is one more crucial thing the trucking industry could do but isn’t. Many accidents between trucks and cars could be prevented simply by installing underride guards, which stop cars from sliding under a semi-truck. One advocate for the change lost two of her daughters to a truck accident here in Georgia. An organization that represents the truck industry supports the measure but under limited circumstances.

Can underride guards save lives?

Many semi-trucks have underride guards already installed on the rear end of the trailer. Safety advocates say that isn’t enough and that they need to be on the sides of trucks as well. One estimate says that 200 people die each year in crashes where the car slides under the side of a semi-trailer. That number isn’t as high as the estimate for those who die in rear-underride crashes.

Two different women who lost three daughters between them in two different underride crashes have been lobbying lawmakers to mandate underride guards on the front, sides and rear of semi-trucks. They say their daughters and countless others may have been spared had those types of safety regulations been in place. They say the current rear-underride guards aren’t enough and that the ones currently in use should be stronger.

What the trucking industry thinks

Advocates for trucking organizations support having and strengthening rear-underride guards on trucks but are reluctant to support front and side guards. Some studies show that even the rear guards don’t always work in accidents, so advocates may have a difficult time convincing the trucking industry as a whole. In addition, critics argue that the cost of installing these extra guards is high and could cost as much as $2,000 to $3,000 per truck.

What the future holds

People on both sides of the debate say that more studies could help determine whether underride guards actually work to save lives. However, the death toll could soon change since the General Accountability Office recently requested that the Department of Transportation use different parameters to count and track underride crashes. Safety advocates say they are pursuing multiple avenues to get this type of legislation passed nationwide.

An accident with a semi-truck has the potential to seriously or fatally injure a person in a passenger vehicle. If you or someone you care about has been harmed in a truck accident, you may feel as though you don’t know where to turn for help. You have the right to pursue legal recourse against a negligent truck driver or trucking company as part of your recovery.