In an effort to decrease the rising amount of truck accident injuries and fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has introduced a new safety rule regarding semi-truck underride collisions.
Underride collisions occur when a smaller vehicle hits the rear end of a larger vehicle, such as a big rig, and slides underneath the larger vehicle during the impact of the crash.
Although most tractor-trailers are equipped with guards to help prevent underride collisions, NHTSA officials feel the rising amount of fatalities stemming from rear-end semi-truck crashes means the current safety standards need to be updated and revised.
The Nhtsa’s New Safety Rule
The NHTSA’s new rule focuses on upgrading the terms of an existing rule pertaining to semi-truck underride crash protection guards. Although the existing rule is in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, NHTSA safety regulators feel all tractor-trailers should be equipped with stronger, more resilient underride crash protection guards.
Under the existing rule, most semi-trucks are required to have rear-impact protection guards; however, this rule does not apply to all big rigs. Additionally, protection guards on the back of most tractor-trailers are not durable enough to sufficiently prevent vehicles from sliding underneath the trailer in the event of a rear-end collision.
Such lack of protection is especially evident during high speed rear-end crashes. The faster a vehicle is traveling before impacting the back of a semi-truck, the more likely the vehicle is to be forced underneath the trailer. And with many states raising the minimum speed limit, NHTSA administrators feel the need for stronger, more durable underride collision prevention guards is eminent.
Current Regulations Do Not Prevent Pci Accidents
The NHTSA’s new rule also addresses the issue of passenger compartment intrusion (PCI) for compact or light-weight vehicles involved in semi-truck rear-end crashes.
When a compact or light-weight vehicle crashes into the rear end of a tractor-trailer at a high rate of speed, PCI can occur. PCI happens when a vehicle slides far enough under a tractor-trailer to cause a large portion of the trailer to enter the vehicle through the vehicles windshield. PCI often results in severe injuries, decapitation and death of the vehicles occupants.
The NHTSA believes that stronger, more durable underride protection guards may prevent PCI by stopping a compact or light-weight vehicle before it slides too far underneath a trucks trailer.
The NHTSA’s new safety rule is a direct result of the agency’s continuing efforts to upgrade industry standards regarding all accidents involving semi-trucks.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a tractor-trailer underride collision, contact the truck accident attorneys at O’Connor, Acciani and Levy. Our Ohio personal injury law firm has great sympathy for all victims injured in truck underride collisions and will fight tirelessly for the compensation you deserve.