Underride
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Marco Rubio are sponsors of bipartisan legislation called the Stop Underrides Act of 2017. (Photo: IIHS)

Senators introduce legislation aimed at preventing truck underride crashes

Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced the bipartisan “Stop Underrides Act of 2017,” which would require rear guards to be strengthened and mandate the use of guards on the sides and front of trucks.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).  Companion legislation is backed in the House by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). Gillibrand was joined at a Dec. 12 press conference on Capitol Hill with lawmakers from both parties, as well as people who have lost family members in underride crashes.

American Trucking Associations said in a statement after the press conference that it “has supported efforts to strengthen rear underride guards in the past, based on data from years of study by [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] and the experiences of our members. NHTSA is already examining the potential benefits and problems with side underride guards and we believe they should be able to continue with their work and we look forward to the results of their research."

In October, Gillibrand asked Paul Trombino, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Federal Highway Administration, about truck underride crashes. She noted these crashes render many vehicle safety features “worthless” because of how the car slides underneath the truck.

In response, Trombino said that if confirmed he would review underride studies and consider updated rule makings that could improve safety.

Speaking at the press conference, Jackie Gillian, head of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said the first underride standard was set in the 1950s and the last update was in 1998.

She added the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended underride improvements numerous times in recent years, but there has yet to be any action.

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