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Under-ride guard testing regulation needs upgrade: study

March 8, 2011

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Arlington, VA – Under-ride guards on large trucks and trailers can fail in relatively low-speed crashes and result in deadly consequences, according to a crash test analysis released March 1 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

IIHS analyzed case files from the federal Large Truck Crash Causation Study – a federal database of roughly 1,000 real-world crashes from 2001 to 2003 – to identify crash patterns leading to rear under-ride, which occurs when the front end of a vehicle slides beneath the back of a large truck.

IIHS also conducted crash tests with vehicles traveling at 35 mph and found vulnerabilities in guards that comply with U.S. rules. Additional findings show:

  • 115 of the 1,000 real-world crashes that occurred between 2001 and 2003 involved a passenger vehicle striking the back of a heavy truck or semi-trailer.
  • Only 22 percent of the crashes did not involve under-ride or had only negligible under-ride.
  • In 23 of the 27 cases in which someone in the passenger vehicle died, severe or catastrophic under-ride damage occurred.

IIHS sent a petition (.pdf file) to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking the agency to upgrade the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards on rear-impact protection for semi-trailers. The study (.pdf file) appeared in IIHS’s Status Report.

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