INDIANAPOLIS - The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a report Thursday showing improvements in underride guard safety adopted by trailer manufacturers – progress they say will save lives, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.
Underride guards are the metal barriers on the back of most large trucks designed to keep drivers from sliding underneath during a crash.
According to IIHS, there are 8 major manufacturers of trailers, and all of them now pass the IIHS 50% overlap test as well as the full-width test.
“The next step is to get improvement on the 30% overlap crash configuration,” said Russ Rader, spokesperson for IIHS. “Only one manufacturer passed the 30% overlap test in our 2013 round of crash tests – a Canadian manufacturer called Manac.”
The Truck Safety Coalition released a statement Thursday praising the industry for making safety improvements.
“I am glad that advances are being made by the industry. Having advocated for better underride guards for over thirty years, I can personally testify that it takes far too long to produce a requirement for lifesaving safety improvements,” said Jennifer Tierney, Board Member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator, and Member, FMCSA, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), after losing her father in an underride crash.
During 2011, large truck rear impacts comprised 19 percent of the fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles, according to the Truck Safety Coalition.
Marianne Karth told Kenney improvements won’t bring back her daughters, but it will hopefully save lives.
“It’s going to be a long process, and this is just the first hurdle,” said Karth. “But it’s a significant hurdle.”
“Right now it’s safer to hit a brick wall than to run into the back of a truck,” said Karth. “(The federal government) seems to be taking this very seriously.”
Karth was driving on Interstate 20 in Georgia with three of her children when police say a truck hit them, spinning their car backward and pushing it underneath a semi-truck.
Karth's daughters AnnaLeah, 17, and Mary, 13, were both killed.
In 2011, 260 people were killed when they crashed into the rears of trucks, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which has been pushing the federal government to adopt tougher standards for underride guards.