The Tragic Story of Jayne Mansfield

By most people’s accounts, actress Jayne Mansfield—along with Marilyn Monroe—epitomizes what it was to be an American blonde bombshell. Beautiful, flamboyant and glamorous, she played the movie star role to perfection. The story began in June of 1967 when Mansfield was on her way to New Orleans after performing at a nightclub in Biloxi. She was riding in the front of her Buick Electra, along with her boyfriend and her driver, while three of Mansfield’s children were asleep in the back when tragedy struck.

On a dark stretch of road, the Electra crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer. Since the truck was following a mosquito spraying vehicle that was emitting a thick fog, chances are the driver didn’t see the slow-moving truck until it was too late. Her car ran underneath the trailer, cracking her skull open and killing all three in the front seat instantly. Her death, however, has made the roads safer for the rest of us.

The Mansfield Bar

The next time you’re driving on I-65, I-69 or U.S. 30, take a look at the horizontal bar that hangs off the back of a tractor-trailer. This DOT protective bar—known as the Mansfield Bar—came about because of Mansfield’s horrific death. This steel tube is designed to prevent underride crashes like hers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires guards on the back of all trucks, but not the sides, however.

Side underride guards could save hundreds

A study found that rigid side underride guards could substantially reduce injuries in roughly 75 percent of all large truck side crashes. In June of 2016, a self-driving Tesla made the news when it crashed into a tractor-trailer. The Tesla went partially under the side of the trailer, and the bottom of the rig struck the car’s windshield killing the vehicle’s occupant.

A new bill from Congress

Recently, members of Congress proposed the Stop Underrides Act which would require side and front guards for trucks. The bill would require new trucks, but not existing ones, be equipped with Mansfield-type bars to prevent cars from sliding underneath the sides. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended underride guards after concluding they would reduce deaths and injuries on U.S. highways. Europe uses the side guards on their trucks and found them to be effective in reducing cyclist and pedestrian fatalities.

After the accident

When tragedy strikes and you or a loved one is in a truck accident, life can become a maze of police reports, hospital stays and medical bills. Insurance companies often don’t have the answers you require. An experienced personal injury attorney can simplify the process and give you the legal support you need. You just want to move on with life again and your attorney can help by pursuing compensation to cover your medical expenses and lost income, as well as pain and suffering.