Skip to Content

Updated Federal Rule May Minimize Underride Fatalities

Ryan E. Gatti Attorney at Law

The aftermath of an underride collision – when a smaller vehicle crashes into the rear of a tractor-trailer and skids underneath — is one that most people cannot forget. Such accidents often are fatal to drivers and their passengers.

For decades safety proponents sought answers on how to minimize these accidents and better protect drivers. In June, the latest attempt surfaced from the U.S. government with a revised rule updating federal standards toward improving protection for drivers and their passengers involved in these horrific collisions.

New collection methods, too

This past summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized the rule that is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The rule requires trailers and semi-trailers to have sufficiently strong rear impact guards installed to protect occupants of passenger vehicles that may crash into the rear of these colossal vehicles. The move may prevent fatalities, while keeping drivers safe.

In addition, the updated law includes specific underride crash-related provisions, including:

  • The creation of an advisory committee to research the effectiveness of side underride guards
  • Implementing improved data collection methods regarding underride crashes
  • Researching the designs of rear impact guards in order to provide improved protection.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also boosts the NHTSA’s budget by more than 50%.

Hundreds die each year

Maybe this revised rule can minimize the deaths related to underride collisions, which have numbered in the hundreds each year. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied underride accidents on U.S. roads and found that an average of 219 people died annually between 2008 and 2017. However, the agency suggests that that number is low due to inconsistencies in how governments record the data.

Share To: