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Federal government could impose law saving hundreds of lives in trucking accidents--but they won't. Why?

shutterstock_573367552.jpgA Federal mandate that would require side guards on commercial trucks has been a hot topic across the country this week.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a recommendation requiring side guards be placed on all commercial trucks. Side guards help prevent under ride accidents, where the vehicle slides under the container of the tractor trailer, which almost always results in seriously injury. The recommendation came after investigations revealed side guards would reduce injuries and deaths by 89%. But still, neither the NHTSA nor the federal government has done anything. Statistically, adding side guards to trucks would save over 200 lives a year, and prevent lifelong suffering for families. This life saving solution has been under consideration since the 1960's by the Department of Transportation, but sadly, there still is no Federal side guard mandate. The Today Show performed tests with a forensic engineer, showing crashes with and without side guards on a truck; clearly demonstrating how valuable side guards can be when a large truck crash occurs. Watch here.

So why is the federal government dragging their feet?

Politics and money. Evidence suggests members of the transportation sector gave more than 9 million dollars to the senate in the 2016 election cycle, and because of that, the trucking industry has influence over some senators to oppose a law requiring side guards on all trucks. The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association say it's too costly, even though the cost of adding side guards to a commercial truck is on average $837 per truck, which in TTMA's opinion, is not cost effective. Translation: not enough people die from side underride crashes to justify the cost of adding this safety feature.

Thankfully, local government officials are working on this issue. Many cities have imposed regulations themselves (see below) in an effort to reduce the number of preventable deaths caused by underride accidents.

  • As of 2008, in Washington, D.C. all trucks owned by the city must have side guards.
  • Boston City Council passed a side guard truck ordinance in 2014, requiring city agencies to only contract with trucking providers who have properly installed side guards.
  • New York City Major De Blasio signed a bill in the summer of 2015 making side guards on all trucks mandatory, and provided trucking companies ample time to add the side guards on their trucks.
  • As of 2016, Seattle will require all large vehicles, including commercial trucks, to have side guards.
  • San Francisco now requires side guards on any new trucks purchased.
  • The cities of Portland, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Cambridge (MA), Somerville (MA), and Newton (MA) have also all implemented side guards on various scales.
  • Japan, European countries, and the United Kingdom all require side guards on trailers and semi-truck trailers as well.

Sadly, Indiana has no regulations regarding side guards on large trucks, even though there were 497 fatalities (NHTSA-2014) on Indiana roadways in 2014. Any one of us could be impacted by a death caused by a large truck crash, including underrides, which could be easily prevented if all large trucks were mandated to have appropriate safety features.

The attorneys at Tabor Law Firm have long standing experience handing all types of truck related accidents in Indiana, including underride crashes that resulted in serious injury or death. If you or a loved one has sustained serious injuries or was tragically killed as a result of a semi-truck crash, contact Tabor Law Firm today for a free consultation. To read about a Tabor Law Firm wrongful death case as a result of an underride crash, click here.

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