Approximately 400 deaths occur each year when cars rear-end large trucks. In an effort to reduce deaths, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is focusing on improving rear underride protection, as stated in a notice of proposed rulemaking issued earlier this month.
What Is Rear Underride?
Rear underride occurs when a small vehicle runs into the rear end of a tractor-trailer or other large vehicle. The small vehicles hood moves under the rear of the larger vehicle.
In some cases, the rear underride can be so severe that the passenger compartment of the smaller vehicle is penetrated by the bed, chassis or trailer of the larger vehicle. Passenger compartment intrusion can cause severe injuries and death. Out of approximately 400 yearly deaths caused by underride accidents, about 125 are the result of passenger compartment intrusion.
Improved Rear Impact Protection
Requirements already exist necessitating hang-down bars at the rear of most trailers and semitrailers. The NHTSA is calling for the requirement of stronger underride guards, offering improved protection against underride, which is especially important in the event of a high-speed collision. More robust guards will offer protection in crashes of up to 35 mph, compared to the current standard of 30 mph.
This notice of proposed rulemaking comes in addition to a similar notice issued by the NHTSA earlier in 2015, regarding rear impact protection and visibility prominence for single unit trucks.
The new safety equipment is expected to cost the trucking industry a total of about $13 million. Approximately 93 percent of trailers sold in the United States today already meet the new NHTSA requirements.
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