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New rules proposed to prevent underride accidents

Just last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued some proposed rules focused on upgrading federal motor vehicle safety standards. The proposals address the protections against underride during rear-end collisions between light vehicles and large trucks.

The proposals continue the initiative to upgrade standards for trailer and truck rear impact crash protections. Earlier in 2015, the agency published a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding visibility prominence of smaller trucks along with rear underride crash protections.

One of the primary components of the Department of Transportation's safety mission is to ensure the trucking industry operates both safely and efficiently, the DOT secretary said. This recent proposal continues those aims.

Presently, most big rigs must already have rear impact guards. These bars hang beneath the truck's trailer to counter the incidents of underride. The NHTSA proposes requirements for sturdier rear impact guards to enhance the protections already in place. The proposed guards would provide additional underride protection in collisions at higher speeds as compared to current requirements.

These type of collisions often involve a high rate of fatalities from passenger compartment intrusion when the smaller vehicle underrides until the rear of the higher-riding truck penetrates the passenger compartment of the car. Rear impact guards prevent this dangerous consequence by stopping the car from sliding under the truck's bed and chassis.

Cost estimates by NHTSA average $13 million for fuel and yearly incremental materials for the safety project.

If you have been injured in an underride accident that was the fault of another driver, you may have a cause of action to file a claim for damages against the at-fault driver.

Source: National Highway Transportation Association, "DOT issues notice of proposed rulemaking on improved rear impact protection for trailers and semitrailers," Kathryn Henry, accessed Jan. 15, 2016

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