Report: More research, inspections needed for underride guards

Congress introduced bill in March to require underrides on tractor-trailers

Posted April 17, 2019

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) called on the DOT to conduct more research and increase inspection of truck underride guards in a 46-page report issued Monday, April 15.

Truck underride crashes occur when a car slides under a large truck, such as a tractor-trailer. When a car slides under the trailer, the passenger compartment can be crushed, severely injuring or killing occupants.

GAO said its research suggests that underride crashes happen more often than the DOT’s data suggests. From 2008 through 2017, an average of 219 fatalities from underride crashes were reported annually. But GAO’s research indicates that number is likely underreported due to variables in state and local data collection processes.

Congress introduced the Stop Underrides Act in March that would require tractor-trailers to have underride guards on the sides and front. Votes have yet to take place in either the House or Senate.

The GAO submitted four recommendations to the DOT:

  1. Update crash reporting criteria to provide a standard definition of underride crashes and include them as a recommended data field,
  2. Provide information to state and local police departments on how to identify and record underride crashes,
  3. Revise regulations to require that rear guards are inspected during annual commercial vehicle inspections, and
  4. Conduct additional research on side underride guards to better understand the overall effectiveness and cost associated with the guards and, if warranted, develop standards for their implementation.

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