Thousands of large trucks use Texas roads every day to deliver cargo and transport shipments throughout the state. Drivers of these trucks, and those who use the roads near them, rely on the truck’s safety equipment to work properly in the case of a crash. Trucks with defective safety equipment can be “red-tagged” out of service until these problems are fixed.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the truck’s under-ride guard, even a guard that appears to be in good working order can fail to prevent a fatal rear-end crash, according to a study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Experienced Texas truck accident attorneys have long been concerned that under-ride guards fail to protect drivers in serious crashes. The under-ride guard attaches to the rear of the trailer. When a passenger vehicle rear-ends the trailer, the under-ride guard is supposed to prevent the smaller vehicle from becoming stuck under the trailer.
However, the NHTSA study found that even when under-ride guards meet federal safety requirements, they may buckle at speeds as slow as 35 miles per hour on impact. If the guard fails, the smaller vehicle slides under the back of the trailer, crushing the passenger compartment and causing fatal injuries in nearly every crash. A guard that is rusted or broken is even more likely to fail.
The study recommended that federal safety standards for under-ride guards be reviewed and strengthened so that the guards do their job in preventing more fatalities in rear-end crashes. Meanwhile, Texas drivers can help protect themselves by giving trucks a large following distance, so that they have room to stop safely even if the truck suddenly hits its brakes.