In 2011, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a study whereby their researchers took passenger cars and crashed into the rear portion of semitrucks in a simulated safety exercise. What was discovered by doing this is just how effective the trucks' underride guards, or metal bumpers, can be. In most cases, they protected motorists from becoming trapped under the tractor-trailers in rear-end crashes with them.
Researchers were also able to determine that in instances where either no guard was present or the existing one was weakened, the likelihood of a vehicle sliding under it was high. In cases in which the vehicle slid under the tractor-trailer, there was a strong likelihood that the collision would cause the roof of the vehicle to become separated from it. When this occurred, decapitation of the car's occupants was quite likely.
In May of 2017, IIHS suggested that their recent research had shown that side guards were equally effective. As a result, car safety watchdog groups, such as Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, began lobbying lawmakers to mandate that tractor-trailers be equipped with them.
They note that, in 2015 alone, just under 1,600 people lost their lives when they became involved in crash between themselves and a tractor-trailer. Just under 20 percent of those were later determined to have involved the passenger car either striking or becoming dislodged beneath the side portion of the semi. Another near 20 percent of deaths resulted from the vehicle striking the tractor-trailer's rear.
A study conducted by IIHS in 2013 showed that, of the then-eight manufacturers that made over 80 percent of the underride guards at the market at the time, they all were successful in preventing these crashes. Other tests were also performed to determine the success of rate of these guards when cars were approaching from different directions. These tests showed a success rate of between 30 to 50 percent.
If your loved one has lost his or her life in an underride incident with a tractor-trailer, then a Los Lunas truck accidents attorney can advise you of your right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in your case.