Why Trucking Groups Are Fighting Push To Require Front And Side Underride Guards

Washington D.C. – The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) are leading the charge against a new effort to require heavy duty trucks and trailers to be equipped with front and side underride guards.

The recently reintroduced, bi-partisan legislation is known as the “Stop Underrides Act.”

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the “Stop Underrides Act” (S.665) on March 5, 2019.

They were joined by U.S. Reps. Steven Cohen (D-TN) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) which introduced HR1511 mirroring the Senate bill.


Proponents argue such a measure will “save lives on the road” and “keep our roads safer.”

However, ATA and OOIDA are pushing back.

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 a recent letter to lawmakers, Daniel Horvath, ATA’s Vice President for Safety Policy, wrote,

“Equipping the roughly 3.2 million trailers and semi-trailers pulled by Class 7 and 8 tractors and the overall 35 million commercial trucks (all classes) in the U.S with side and front underride guards will far exceed the $10 billion the industry currently spends annually on safety.”

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.

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.”

OOIDA’s letter claimed underride guards could add another 1,000 pounds to a tractor-trailer, which would severely reduce capacity.

As a result, OOIDA said more trucks will be needed on the road and/or an increase in weight limits.

Either way, OOIDA contends such a mandate would put motorists in more danger than before.


Safety Advocates Demand Congressional Action

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) supports the “Stop Underrides Act.”

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 act to lessen the deadly nature of big rig crashes.


New Report Calls For More Research

A new report, released last week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) entitled, “Truck Underride Guards: Improved Data Collections, Research and Inspections Needed,” recommended further research be conducted on the issue, concluding,

“The Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should conduct additional research on side underride guards to better understand the overall effectiveness and cost associated with these guards and, if warranted, develop standards for their implementation.”

U.S. DOT agreed to take up the recommendation.

Read the full report HERE.

Read more about the “Stop Underrides Act” HERE.

(Image courtesy of IIHS)

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