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Are Truck Underride Guards Helpful or Harmful?

Steve Wagner

A fatal crash in Whiteland, IN has brought with it the return of a debate over the underride guards found on most semi trucks.

The cause of the accident is still undetermined, but it is believed that the driver of the vehicle that crashed into the back of the semi must have been distracted, as the semi was stopped at a traffic light on a long, straight stretch of road.

Distraction, however, should not be the reason someone loses his/her life. According to Bruce Enz, a national crash analyst who is based in Indianapolis, these rear guards on semi trucks are capable of preventing cars from sliding underneath the semis in only a few cases, mostly when cars are travelling at speeds under 40 mph (which doesn’t often occur as the majority of semi traffic is on larger, higher speed roads).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been pushing for more stringent manufacturing protocol on these underride rails, to make them more durable in crash conditions. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 260 people killed in 2011 due to these rear guards, even in cases where the guards were fully modified and up to date.

The man who was killed in this crash, Michael Otte, was a 56-year-old Whiteland resident. Pictures from the crash showed Otte’s car was crushed halfway under the back of the semi truck, clearly demonstrating the faulty side of the underride guards.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a semi truck accident, give the vehicular accident lawyers at Wagner Reese a call to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can assist you and your family in recovering the damages you are owed from the accident. We are here to help you and want to get you back on your feet after the accident. Don’t wait, because your statute of limitations is short for truck accidents. Call us today!

Photo Courtesy of IIHS

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