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Recent crash test demo and GAO study strengthens Underride debate

1969 Federal Register- Underrides

Written 50 Years ago in Federal Register Vol 34 No 53- pp 23 & 24 “It is anticipated that the proposed Standard will be amended after technical studies have been completed, to extend the requirement for underride protection to the sides of large vehicles.”

The General Accounting Office (GAO) confirmed in their most recent report, claims what MANY have been saying for 50 years regarding truck underride fatalities.
“There are many and they are under reported.”

The March 26 Crash test Event in D.C. demonstrated how the fatalities can be prevented.

Underride crash test event

An underride crash occurs when a car slides under a large truck, such as a semi-trailer, during an accident. When these accidents happen, a car’s safety features are rendered useless because most of the car slides under the trailer and the truck crashes straight through the windows and into the passengers. The passengers in the car often suffer severe head and neck injuries, including decapitation. These accidents are often fatal, even at low speeds.

Studies and pilot programs show that a simple barrier attached to the lower area of a truck, called an “underride guard,” would help prevent a car from sliding underneath a truck in an accident. Under current federal law, underride guards are not required to be on the sides or front of trucks. Underride guards are already required for the back of a truck, but the standards are outdated. The bipartisan Stop Underrides Act would require underride guards on the sides and front of a truck and would update the outdated standards for underride guards on the back of trucks.

March 26th 2019 Crash Test Demonstration

The GAO report follows a crash-test demonstration in Washington D.C. 
On March 26, 2019, the crash test was hosted by Marianne and Jerry Karth and Lois Durso to demonstrate the efficacy of side underride guards. The tests used Chevy Malibus as the bullet car, striking the side of a tractor trailer at about 30 mph, with and without side underride guards. Industry representatives, and staff members from the Department of Transportation, the Senate commerce committee, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee watched as the side underride guards engaged the Malibu, crushing the front end, but leaving the windshield and roof intact

About the above Video
Side Underride Crash Test. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ran two 35-mph crash tests impacting a 53 foot dry van trailer at a 90 degree angle: Video on bottom has  an AngelWing side underride protection device from Airflow Deflector Inc. a
Video on top shows crash test with a fiberglass side skirt intended to improve aerodynamics, not to prevent underride.

The GAO released results of a study to support the consideration of the STOP Underrides Act (S. 666 / H.R. 1511), which would, among other things, require the trucking industry increase its installation of these protective guards. The title of the GAO report, Truck Underride Guards- Improved Data Collection, Inspections, and Research Needed, summed up the report’s central conclusions.

The GAO report contains 46 pages of eye opening information, but what I found most stunning was the number of underride fatalities which were under reported at the scene of the accident. ~Allen Smith~

According to the March GAO report:
From 2008 through 2017,  an average of about 219 fatalities from underride crashes involving large trucks were reported annually, representing less than 1 percent of total traffic fatalities over that time frame.  However, these fatalities are likely underreported due to variability in  state and local data collection. For example, police officers responding to a crash do not use a standard definition of an underride crash and states’ crash report forms vary,  with some not including a field for collecting underride data.
Further, police officers receive limited information on how to identify and record underride crashes.  As a result, NHTSA may not have accurate data to support efforts to reduce traffic fatalities.

Comparatively, the FARS (Fatality  Analysis Reporting System) data show an annual average of about 34,700 total traffic fatalities and approximately 4,000 fatalities involving large trucks over the same period. Therefore, “reported” underride crash fatalities on average accounted for less than 1 percent of total traffic fatalities and 5.5 percent of all fatalities related to large truck crashes during this time frame.
If all underrides were counted accurately, these figures would no doubt be significantly higher.

GAO recommends that DOT take steps to provide a standardized definition of underride crashes and data fields, share information with police departments on identifying underride crashes, establish annual inspection requirements for rear guards, and conduct additional research on side underride guards. DOT concurred with GAO’s recommendations.

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) reintroduced on March 5th 2019,bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Stop Underrides Act, to help prevent deadly truck underride crashes.
Stop Underride Act Senate bill S.665 
Stop Underrides Act House bill H.R. 1511

The bill was first introduced in the Senate in December 2017
S.2219 – Stop Underrides Act of 2017

AsktheTrucker has written about Underrides in the past and will continue to encourage conversation between truckers, the industry, and proponents for Underrides.

Unknown facts about underride crashes and prevention

Underride Guard Mandate: A Counterargument to Industry Opposition

More about the March 26th live crash testing event

The Stop Underrides team of volunteers pulled together to create a memorable live crash testing event a few miles from the nation’s capital.  The multi disciplinary group of safety advocates and engineers illustrated how simple semitrailer guards can truly turn what would have been fatal collisions into minor accidents.

Safety engineers and professionals shared their knowledge and thoughts in a Panel Discussion on the underride issue at the D.C. Underride Crash Test Event on March 26, 2019:

March 26th D.C. Underride Crash Test Event Panel Discussion in D.C.

  • David Friedman, Consumer Reports, VP, Advocacy, formerly the CR Director of Cars and Product Policy and Analysis, former NHTSA Acting Administrator
  • Malcolm Deighton, engineer with Hydro, which supplies aluminum for manufacturing underride protective devices and trailer parts and which produces comprehensive underride protection technology in Europe
  • Glen Berry, Safety Director for Thomas Transport Delivery, AngelWing installed since 2017, truck driver
  • Perry Ponder, inventor of AngelWingengineer with an accident reconstruction engineering company
  • David Dorrity, worked for Stevens Transport for years and testifies all over the country on safe trucking practices.
  • Aaron Kiefer, forensic engineer & crash reconstructionist, inventor of SafetySkirt

Moderated by Andy Young, truck litigation attorney and CDL holder.

MGA Research provided crash test dummies and high speed video footage while Collision Safety Consulting (Aaron Kiefer’s company) conducted the tests themselves via custom vehicle tow systems.  Hydro NA (OEM supplier to trailer manufacturers) donated engineering personnel and expertise while AnnaLeah and Mary for Truck Safety ALMFTS and conceived and anchored the event.  Andy Young MC’d while Glenn Berry donated round trip delivery of a trailer and a power unit for the testing.

The team put together three consecutive side collisions using Chevy Malibu sedans into 53 ft semitrailers.  The vehicles were towed into the “T-bone” collisions at or near 30 mph.  In order,  they crashed a trailer guarded with the Angelwing, a trailer protected by the SafetySkirt, and then an unguarded trailer.

The Angelwing is a steel lattice that fits between the landing gear and dual trailer axles.  It is designed by Perry Ponder, manufactured for Airflow Deflector, and currently available for purchase.   This guard has been tested during 40 mph collisions, and likely will prevent underride at even higher collision speeds.

The Safetyskirt is a laminated panel that combines a traditional trailer skirt with a woven textile backer that anchors at the landing gear and the rear corner of the trailer to prevent an underride.  The system is in development by Aaron Kiefer of  The system looks and feels like a full length skirt that encloses the rear axles for safety and aerodynamic benefit.  Testing indicates additional drag reduction (fuel savings) of 2-4% above and beyond current trailer skirts and no issue with negotiating across curbs, medians, or into loading docks.  Engineers are working on designing in sufficient access around the axles and wheels for pre trip inspections and tire changes while preserving fuel savings.  An owner operator will be conducting over the road testing this summer of a SafetySkirt equipped dry van trailer.

Well engineered guarding solutions are a win-win for drivers and for freight carriers.

 NO side underride protection: 

All 3 crashes simultaneously

On Saturday April 27th at 6PM et we will be having an interview and open discussion concerning Underrides.  Guests on the show will be:

Jerry Karth and Marianne Karth and Lois Durso are advocates for Underrides and have lost loved ones due to Underride crashes.  Contrary to what many may speculate, these underride deaths were not the fault of either 4 wheeler.  One was an improper truck lane change, and the other was icy roads.  You can read their stories here.
Karth family and Lois Durso

Perry Ponder, inventor of AngelWingengineer with an accident reconstruction engineering company
Aaron Kiefer, forensic engineer & crash reconstructionist, inventor of SafetySkirt
Andy Young, CDL holder and truck litigation attorney

We will address with the panel some of trucking’s major concerns and will be taking calls 347-826-9170

  1.  Cost
  2. weight
  3. maximize cargo space
  4. damage to skirting
  5. energy absorbent materials
  6. Incline grades- Traveling up and then down grades
  7. Ability to access under trailer
  8. maintenance and installation costs
  9. Are underrides a one size fits all?
  10. What are the conclusions of the NHTSA regarding underrides?
  11. Better training for CDL drivers and 4 wheelers

More Info

  1. Media Reports & Video Footage Unveil Highlights of the Successful D.C. Underride Crash Test Event If you were not able to witness the Underride Crash Tests in D.C. in person on March 26, then the next best thing is to see the media coverage of this important event and to view the video footage of all three tests of a car colliding at approximately 30 mph with the side of a tractor-trailer. . .Read more here.
  2. Video of the Underride Panel Discussion at the D.C. Underride Crash Test Event, March 26, 2019 Safety engineers and professionals share their knowledge and thoughts in a Panel Discussion on the underride issue at theC. Underride Crash Test Eventon March 26, 2019. . . Read more here.

Media Coverage of the march 26th D.C. Underride Crash Test Event:

Truck Underride Guards Abbreviations

CVSA Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
DOT Department of Transportation
FARS Fatality  Analysis Reporting System
FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
IIHS Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
MMUCC Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria
NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NTSB National Transportation Safety Board
NPRM notice of proposed rulemaking
ANPRM advance notice of proposed rulemaking

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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