In 2004, 64% of U.S. truck crash fatalities involved crashes to the front of the truck. The U.S. still has no lifesaving Front Underrun Protection Device (FUPD) Standard. Since August 2003, new trucks in Europe must be fitted with an adequate Front Underrun Protection device (FUP) [ECE Regulation No. 93]. EEVC Working Group 14 estimated that the effect of the new regulation was saving 900 lives of car occupants annually. A benefit analysis, also performed by WG14, showed that 300 lives extra could be saved annually by installing an energy absorbing front underrun system on trucks with regard to the new regulation standard. Plans are underway to extend the front of the truck 300mm to 500mm or more to create a crash zone or deformable soft nose that would absorb crash energy and might reduce serious injuries and fatalities another 10% from the current standard on trucks with energy-absorbing guards, and survivable speeds would be increased to 80-90kph. Truck length standards would need to be extended to allow for the length of these new safety devices, and extensions for safety devices only seem quite reasonable.
Truck crash fatalities increased in the U.S. in 2004, and it is clear to achieve substantial reductions in the number of severe injury and fatal crashes a FUP standard will be required in the U.S. The U.S. DOT should immediately harmonize a new U.S. FUP standard for new trucks to the current ECE Regulation No. 93 and allow length exemptions for extended underride devices. Work then must begin on a strong energy-absorbing guard standard meeting current state-of-the-art research standards.
ECE R93 The European Front Underrun Protection Device Regulation PDF Document.