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The Underride Network is concerned with issues affecting crash compatibility between small and larger vehicles including all sizes of trucks and SUV’s. We support improved underride guards for large trucks and trailers; on the front, side, and rear! World regulation of guards has not kept pace with technological advancements to save lives and prevent injuries. We believe truck safety and vehicle compatibility are human rights issues and governments must address these issues from this perspective to ensure the safety and well-being of their citizens.
Safety begins when we acknowledge victims, without victims there can be no safety initiative, without victims there is no reason or need for safety. Governments and organizations that do not acknowledge victims provide zero motivation for safety efforts and do not promote a healthy safety culture. Safety must be an shared effort, we must not exclude victims voices and we must maintain a shared responsibility for safety. Responsibility for safety must lie with road users, vehicle designers, roadway designers, law enforcement, and law makers equally.
A Helpful Guide to Understanding the Rear Underride Guard Rulemaking in the U.S. – NHTSA is looking at upgrading the U.S. Rear Underride Guard Rules. The Underride Network is providing this guide to provide all of the links and information on a broad range of safety issues so advocates can comment on the new guard rulemaking at NHTSA with a broad base of safety knowledge.
New crash tests and analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety demonstrate that underride guards on tractor-trailers can fail in relatively low-speed crashes confirming similar results in NHTSA’s own crash tests in the early 1990s. The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) had already issued a voluntary Recommended Practice in April 1994 that included all the essential elements of the subsequent NHTSA standards except for the energy absorption requirement, the new guard standard issued by the Clinton Administration was a rubber stamp of the industry guards already on roadways, even these worthless guards were exempted from large trailers manufactured prior to January 26, 1998, single unit trucks, truck tractors, pole trailers, low chassis and special purpose vehicles, and “wheels-back” vehicles. These guards were shown to be ineffective in low speed crashes above 25 mph with catastrophic failures of the guard attachment to the truck or trailer common.
PR Newswire – UNDERRIDE GUARDS ON BIG RIGS OFTEN FAIL IN CRASHES; INSURANCE INSTITUTE FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY PETITIONS GOVERNMENT FOR NEW STANDARD – Crash Tests
Truck Underride Accidents: Drivers Endangered When Cars Slide Under Trailers, Trailer Bumpers Not Good Enough, Says Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Report by ABC News
Exerpt below from NHTSA’s recent study of underride crashes, we would add rear underrides seem to fall at 52% thus making underride an issue in the vast majority of serious crashes and an issue for an majority of trucking victims, we feel the most important issue and the only issue it seems without an lobby.
“The review of LTCCS cases produced evidence that front override and side underride are a significant problem in serious crashes between heavy trucks and light vehicles. Front override and side underride were found in most of the crashes examined. Preliminary estimates from this review are that ovemide occurs in almost three-quarters of crashes in which the front of the truck is involved, and in over half of the crashes when the sides of the trucks were struck. The results here are based on only a limited sample of serious crashes for which detailed investigations were available, but they clearly indicate that the safety problem of the geometrical mismatch between light vehicles and trucks as currently configured is significant.”
Exerpt from NHTSA – Heavy-Vehicle Crash Data Collection And Analysis to Characterize Rear and Side Underride and Front Override in Fatal Truck Crashes: Impact speed estimation
“Impact speeds and relative speed of trucks and light vehicles at impact were estimated for 193 light vehicles that struck the rear of a truck in fatal crashes. The mean velocity of trucks at impact was estimated at 16.3 mph, but almost 41 percent were stopped at impact and 52 percent were estimated to be going 5 mph or less (including stopped). For striking vehicles, mean speed was 59.8 mph at impact, with a range of 15 mph to 110 mph. Relative velocity is more meaningful in terms of impact however. Overall, the mean relative velocity at impact was estimated at 44.0 mph. About 32 percent of the impacts occurred at relative velocities less than 35 mph, and in 43 percent, the relative velocity was 40 mph or less. However, many impacts were at very high relative velocities, and probably not survivable. In over 25 percent of the cases, relative velocity was over 55 mph and in 13 percent it was more than 60 mph.”
We clearly require an high speed standard in the U.S. of at least 50 mph to save a majority of victims. We must not accept the Canadian Standard as it is only effective in all types of crashes to about 30mph and does not save most victims and it clearly is not adequate for 30 years of technology improvement and increasing energy efficiency. We are told to extend the front of the truck to handle high velocities of both the truck and colliding vehicle but clearly high speed impacts are the majority in rear impacts also. We must also extend truck and trailer length restrictions to incorporate longer high speed guards in the front and rear of the truck.
Vision Zero – An ethical approach to safety and mobility
Safety science demands an integrated approach to safety which includes sharing blame between users and designers of the system, implementing a safety culture.
UNICAMP “IMPACT PROJECT” teaches the technical aspects of truck underride while searching for moral and political solutions. If you wonder what the “wedge effect” is, go here to learn!
Quote from the Highway Safety Desk Book:
“The Washington State Department of Transportation has stated, “Millions of dollars are spent each year to make highways safer and the roadside features more forgiving to errant drivers. Why, then, do we tolerate parked or abandoned vehicles to remain along our highways for extended periods of time? We have designed standards that require a ‘clear zone‘ on limited access highways. Nothing can be placed in this zone without providing protection to the motorist in the form of a guardrail, barrier, crash cushions, or break-away supports. Yet, we allow heavy vehicles to stand a few feet or even inches from the traveled lanes”
During the 1990‘s even NHTSA‘s own engineers were sounding the alarm bells! A new guard regulation was being promulgated for the first time in the U.S. since 1953, the reach of this regulation was limited to certain trailers only, excluding the majority single-unit trucks. Crash tests were performed only at 30 m.p.h. (48 km/h) perhaps showing the lack of confidence in their own proposal or to hide lack of performance at higher more common crash speeds. Trailer heights were not standard, real world tests were limited, and only eight tests were performed for a standard to protect tens of thousands of lives. Testimony against this standard was almost completely unanimous from politicians, safety groups, victims, and the non-industry engineering community. Crash tests had clearly shown stronger guards would be needed for real world crashes. NHTSA knew minimally compliant guards under their proposal would only be reasonably completely effective at around 25 m.p.h. (40 kp/h). Curiously, many industry guards on the roadway since the early 90‘s would already meet this standard? We saw the beginnings of so-called public private partnerships during this period within government agencies (See the article above for more on this topic!) The current administration has delayed studies that preclude new regulation efforts to the end of their administration. People continue dying! See the article below for an analysis of the current standards during the late 90‘s.
NHTSA in 1991 stated “Rear impacts involving underride, which are virtually all PCI, have the highest severe injury rate, from 25-28 percent of all injuries sustained in rear end crashes. Without doubt, the great majority of these serious injuries occur above 30 mph, especially when one acknowledges the fact that two-thirds of all rear impact closing speeds are judged to exceed 30 mph. It is not surprising that severe injury production would be inordinately high in rear impacts by passenger cars given the statistical anomaly that over 50% of combination truck rear underride crashes by passenger vehicles occurred with big rigs that were stopped on the shoulders of high speed highways.” The current U.S. guard standards were acknowledged to be effective to 30 mph, a 40 mph standard was acknowledged to be feasible, but was overuled as not cost-effective due to a 40% higher cost for the stronger guards. Modern cars can withstand a 40 mph impact into a stiff wall but an impact with current U.S. underride guards above 25 mph can often be fatal.
VC-COMPAT – Vehicle Crash Compatibility Project in EC 5th Framework Programme and see what can be accomplished when the public safety is placed first ahead of industry short-term economics. Presentations presented at the Final Workshop of the VC-COMPAT project, 17 and 18 October 2006 are available for download at this link:
In 2015, the U.S. still allows deadly guillotine guards on the backs of all single-unit trucks and many specialty trailers, including all trailers built prior to 1998. Is this 1952 safety regulation the best the U.S. government can achieve after 55 years, and why are car companies building trucks with 56 year old technology? These guards have no strength standard whatsoever, they can be 30 inches from the ground, 18 inches from the sides of the truck, and 24 inches in from the back side of the truck or trailer. The regulation states “The rear impact guard(s) must be substantially constructed and attached by means of bolts, welding, or other comparable means.” Thin aluminum will do! These false guards do not prevent underride even at low speeds and cannot be considered state-of-the-art in civil litigation. They constitute false truck safety and should be removed and replaced from all vehicles before they kill thousands of additional victims.
We have updated our victims petition to FMCSA and NHTSA to include trucking victims on their websites. We need trucking victims for trucking safety efforts just like drunk driving victims were necessary to battle drunk driving. Our stories are powerful and FMCSA and NHTSA must allow the U.S. public to hear them. They have signed up over 5 million citizens by publishing distracted driving victims stories on NHTSA’s website while ignoring trucking victims. Not a single trucking victim story, and these are the agencies overseeing trucking safety? Crash statistics do not backup this discriminatory bias against trucking victims. (A little balance please!!) See “The Faces of Distracted Driving” and understand there is no faces of trucking victims or campaigns for companies to use better underride guard technology at NHTSA or FMCSA. New petition text below, please support trucking victims and trucking safety.
Petitioning FMCSA and NHTSA – We are asking the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and NHTSA (National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration) to publicly recognize the existence of millions of underride victims and give them long overdue dignity and honor. These U.S. government sites overseeing truck safety laws and regulations refuse to mention trucking victims and underride victims. We are on the verge of eliminating all traffic fatalities, we finally have the technology and just need the safety culture and the motivation to implement change. We are starting the process to regulate new underride guard technology and hope to include regulation of crash avoidance technology on all new vehicles. This technology could virtually eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. We are at the end of the nightmare, the inclusion of victim stories and advocacy will motivate us to finish the journey. Imagine the U.S. government trying to end drunk driving and refusing to mention drunk driving victims, it does not make sense. It is those victims that motivated the public to demand needed change in law enforcement and in our safety efforts. Please help us to finish this great task. Let us demand that the FMCSA and NHTSA include victims on their sites and publications and create a strong safety culture. Please support our victims. Please sign and support our victims with this safety petition.
The Underride Network wishes to thank Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways for their generosity in providing underride safety related articles from the CRASH archives.
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The crash compatibility of all vehicles is a human right!
Truck Safety is a Human Rights issue.
Governments will be judged on the value they place on the lives of their citizens.