Testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this spring shows underride guards mounted to the side of a trailer provide similar safety benefits as rear-mounted guards. Rulemakings to mandate installation of rear-mounted underride guards on trailers and straight truck configurations are at various stages in the federal regulatory process.
IIHS says its study shows the need for mandates for side-mounted underride guards, too.
Earlier this year, IIHS conducted two 35-mph crash tests: one with an AngelWing side underride protection device from Airflow Deflector Inc., and a second test with a fiberglass side skirt intended to improve aerodynamics but not designed to prevent underride. Tests conducted this spring marked the first time that IIHS has evaluated a side underride guard.
In both tests, a midsize passenger car struck the center of a 53-foot dry van trailer. In the AngelWing test, IIHS says underride guard bent but kept the car from going underneath the trailer. In the second test with no underride guard protection, the impact sheared off part of the roof and the sedan wedged itself beneath the trailer. IIHS says the car’s occupants in a collision similar to the second test would likely suffer fatal injuries.
“Our tests and research show that side underride guards have the potential to save lives,” says David Zuby, the Institute’s executive vice president and chief research officer. “We think a mandate for side underride guards on large trucks has merit, especially as crash deaths continue to rise on our roads.”