Television news programs and social media feeds are frequently flooded with horrific images of the wreckage that occurs when a car or other vehicle collides with a large truck, such as a big rig or tractor-trailer. These accidents, called underrides, rarely see survivors; in fact, many victims are decapitated or crushed during an underride accident. Even at low speeds, hardly anyone walks away.
Those who are unaffected see the shocking images and hear the devastating details, then move on with their lives. But it doesn’t stop there for the families living with the pain of losing a loved one in such a violent manner. And now families of people killed in underride accidents are asking Congress to help.
A Legacy of Hurt
Families are haunted by these accidents that they say (and safety experts agree) are made much worse than they should have been by large trucks’ lack of underride guards. Marianne Karth lost her two daughters in an underride accident when a large truck hit them and pushed their car beneath a tractor-trailer. Similarly, Lois Durso recalls the day her daughter was crushed by a tractor-trailer, her hair left on its tires. And Eric Hein will never forget the day that his teenage son’s car was dragged for half a mile beneath a tractor-trailer before fire engulfed the car, burning his son alive.
Parents Demand Action
Now, these three parents have teamed up to put pressure on lawmakers to pass the Stop Underrides Act. This act seeks to update and strengthen safety laws to require guards to be installed on the sides of tractor-trailers to prevent cars from riding beneath them in a crash situation. Previous attempts to pass the Stop Underrides Act failed, but now Congress has reintroduced the legislation and these parent advocates are hopeful that the law will become reality.
Red Tape and the Trucking Lobby
Those opposed to the passage of the Stop Underrides Act are groups that represent the trucking industry. They argue that the cost of the guards is too much, and they say that added weight from the installation of guards can cause issues with tractor-trailers’ maneuverability.
The addition of underride bars beneath the sides of the trailer on a tractor-trailer makes sense. Semi-trucks are already required to have so-called “Mansfield” bars installed across the rear of the trailer from the back of the cargo area. These bars prevent cars from impacting the rear-end of the truck from rolling beneath it. It is mandatory that these trucks have these bars, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, bars in the back do nothing to prevent underrides from the truck’s sides. And this is what these parents and many safety experts say needs to happen next.
It remains to see if lawmakers can push this legislation through and how many countless lives and horrific injuries will happen while it is tied up in red tape on Capitol Hill.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, contact the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg and our Los Angeles lawyer by clicking here or calling 310-997-0904 for a free consultation.