New crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that under-ride guards on tractor trailers often fail in even low-speed crashes causing unnecessary deaths. The under-ride guard is the vertical bar that extends down on the back of a semi truck trailers' rear-bumper to prevent cars from sliding under the trailer causing the roof to be torn off the car. Today's passenger cars are designed to protect occupants from low speed front end crashes when the front bumper is impacted but they are not designed for impacts that strike above the front bumper and impact the just the hood or roof of the car.
When the under-ride guard crumples and the car slides under a truck, the consequences are often catastrophic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 423 people in passenger vehicles die each year and more than 5,000 people are injured when their vehicles strike the back of large trucks. The tests indicate that the government under-ride guard safety standards need to be improved both in the U.S. and Canada. Write to your Congress-person encouraging him or her to mandate an improvement to the NHTSA under-ride standards.