Bill to Require Front and Side Underride Guards on Big Rigs is Making a Comeback
Washington D.C. – Legislation to require heavy duty trucks and trailers to be equipped with front and side underride guards has been re-introduced into both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
In a joint announcement on Thursday, sponsors of the Stop Underrides Act, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) along with U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) said current safety standards on big rigs are “weak and outdated.”
“This bill would finally enact critical, commonsense changes that would save lives on our roads,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Requiring effective truck underride guards is one of the best and easiest solutions to prevent horrific underride accidents and protect passengers from being killed when a car collides with a tractor-trailer.”
Senator Rubio explained why he supports the measure.
“Hundreds of individuals across the nation are lost to underride collisions every year, with Florida unfortunately ranking among the top states for reported fatalities,” he said. “As a parent with kids of driving age, I look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to advance efforts to make our roads safer.”
The bill also calls for mandating stronger rear guards and annual inspections for all large trucks conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) include underride guards.
Additionally, the bill would also require the USDOT to review underride standards periodically and to evaluate the need for changes “in response to advancements in technology.”
This is not the first time this group of legislators have tried to pass the Stop Underrides Act.
Trucking groups such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) have successfully opposed such efforts to mandate front and side underride guards.
They contend the cost associated with purchasing and installing front and side underride guards would be an unreasonable burden given the benefits of such a mandate are “unproven.”
In fact, OOIDA estimates the cost of compliance will be approximately $1,560 per trailer.
Further, OOIDA argues the mandate would also likely increase, not decrease, the number of accidents and worsen the safety outcomes of those accidents.
The group asserts that because underride guards could add another 1,000 pounds to a tractor-trailer, it will lead to severely reduced capacity.
Since more trucks will be needed on the road and/or an increase in weight limits, OOIDA claims this would put motorists in more danger than before and further increase congestion while speeding the degradation of America’s aging infrastructure.
TransportationNation.com will continue to track the progress of this bill closely.