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Benefits of side ‘underride’ guards would exceed NHTSA projection: IIHS

Photo: Government Accountability Office

Arlington, VA — Requiring impact guards on the sides of large trucks would save “up to 10 times” more lives than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates, one safety group says.

In the April 21 Federal Register, NHTSA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that would consider requirements for side guards, intended to prevent “underride” incidents, in which passenger vehicles strike trucks and slide underneath. A final rule that requires underride guards on the rear of trucks went into effect Jan. 11.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which supports a side-guard mandate, believes the requirement could save between 159 and 217 lives annually. The estimate is substantially higher than NHTSA’s estimate of 17 lives saved and 69 injuries prevented.

IIHS also believes a side-guard mandate likely would prevent many pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcyclist deaths.

In a comment submitted to Regulations.gov, IIHS Senior Research Engineer Matthew Brumbelow contends that IIHS’ projection accounts for various crash types NHTSA excludes, such as those occurring at speeds greater than 40 mph and/or involving more than one passenger vehicle and one truck.

Brumbelow notes that the projection depends on whether a mandate would require protection forward from the rear axle or along the full length of the trailer.

NHTSA in June extended to July 20 the comment deadline for the ANPRM in response to requests from industry stakeholders.

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