No one could have survived that, yet some do. It is a horrific traffic crash known as an underride collision in which a smaller vehicle skids under the back or side of an 18-wheel large truck. The impact of the crash often leads to the top of the car, pick-up or SUV sheared off and the vehicle grotesquely wedged underneath the large truck.
Anyone who survives an underride collision may have catastrophic injuries, including paralysis, traumatic brain injury and the loss of limbs. The collision and injuries likely will set back victims personally, medically and financially. Recovery will take some time.
Federal legislation hopes to curb such crashes
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that an average of 219 people died annually in underride crashes in the U.S. from 2008 to 2017. The GAO admitted, though, that the fatality numbers remain underreported due to discrepancies in how municipalities and states collect such data.
Underride collisions gained notoriety more than 50 years ago when Hollywood actress Jayne Mansfield and two others died in 1967 in such an accident near New Orleans. Soon after Mansfield’s death, federal lawmakers addressed the issue, passing legislation requiring the installation of metal rear underride guards on all trailers on trucks.
Obviously, that legislative move was not enough as underride crashes with injuries and deaths continued to occur. All these years, the transportation industry fought off such safety regulations, claiming they were unproven and too expensive.
However, the latest move by the U.S. Senate just may address this safety issue. In March, the U.S. introduced the Stop Underrides Act, which requires only new large trucks to be outfitted with side and front underride guards.
The law would not apply to the 16 million big-rig trucks currently traveling on U.S. roads. Safety advocates conceded that a compromise was necessary to get the bill this far. This marks the third time federal lawmakers introduces the legislation.
Maybe, this time, something will finally get done to address the hundreds of injuries and deaths that occur in underride collisions.