Big Rigs Must Have Front, Side Underride Guards If These New Bills Pass
Washington, D.C. – Two U.S. Senators and two U.S. House of Representatives members have once again introduced legislation which would require all tractor-trailers to install front and side underride guards.
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the S.665 on Tuesday March 5. The description of the bill reads:
A bill to reduce the number of preventable deaths and injuries caused by underride crashes, to improve motor carrier and passenger motor vehicle safety, and for other purposes.
S.665 has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for hearings and approval before it can move to a floor vote in the Senate.
Senator Gillibrand, who announced in January she is seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, said in a released statement:
“Congress has the ability to make simple and common sense changes that would save lives on the road. Truck underride guards are one of the best and easiest solutions for protecting passengers and preventing them from being killed when a car collides with a truck.”
Senator Rubio said the issue was personal to him because of the age of his children. He commented:
“Hundreds of individuals across the nation are lost to underride collisions every year, with Florida, unfortunately, ranking among the top states for reported fatalities. This Congress, I am proud to join my Senate colleagues in reintroducing the Stop Underrides Act. As a parent with kids of driving age, I look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to advance efforts to keep our roads safer.”
Joining this effort in the U.S. House are Reps. Steven Cohen (D-TN), and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). They introduced HR1511 and the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for further debate and examination.
In a released statement Rep. Cohen said the following:
This is common sense legislation that will save lives. It’s the right kind of legislation that should be advocated in Congress more often.
Rep. DeSaulnier also commented, saying:
Each year, truck underride collisions—among the deadliest type of accidents on the road—claim the lives of at least 300 people. No parent, friend, or loved one should have to suffer such a loss when there are commonsense safety improvements that can be made.
The four U.S. legislators introduced similar legislation in December of 2017 called the “Stop Underrides Act of 2017.” Though the text of the newly introduced bills are not yet available, its expected to mirror the failed 2017 bills.
The previous iteration of the legislation proposed that front and side underride guards must be designed and tested to prevent a vehicle traveling 35 mph from sliding under the trailer. Additionally, the standard would apply to trailers, semis and single-unit trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
Advocate of the legislation, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), has stated it believes the data is clear and that front and side underride guards would save lives. According to IIHS, of the 1,475 people in passenger vehicles who died in collisions involving tractor-trailers in 2016, 295 were in a vehicle that hit the side of a semi, and 238 died when their vehicle struck the rear.
IIHS also reports front collisions caused 915 passenger deaths, and 27 people died when their vehicles hit an unknown part of the truck. With accidents involving tractor-trailers on the rise many safety advocates are demanding Congress to act to lessen the deadly nature of big rig crashes.
Opponents argue the mandate would likely increase, not decrease, the number of accidents and worsen the safety outcomes of those accidents. Plus, opponents contend the cost associated with purchasing and installing front and side underride guards would be unreasonable for small business truckers.
The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) estimates that the cost of compliance will be approximately $1,560 per trailer. President of OOIDA, Todd Spencer, wrote to lawmakers in January 2018 arguing,
The mandates you’re promoting may actually increase the number of crashes on American highways, while simultaneously worsening their severity. Your legislation also creates serious economic hardships and operational challenges for small trucking businesses, which comprise 96 percent of U.S. motor carriers.
OOIDA’s letter claimed underride guards could add another 1,000 pounds to a tractor-trailer, which would severely reduce capacity. Further, it argued more trucks will be needed on the road and/or an increase in weight limits.
Either way, OOIDA says such a mandate would put motorists in more danger than before.
The debate on this issue is going to heat up again soon and Transportation Nation Network will be here to bring you the latest developments.