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Rubio, Colleagues Reintroduce Legislation to Strengthen Safety Measures to Prevent Deadly ‘Underride’ Accidents Involving Tractor-Trailers

Mar 5, 2021 | Comunicados de Prensa

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC) and U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) reintroduced the Stop Underrides Act, which is bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help prevent deadly truck underride crashes. 

“Hundreds of individuals across the nation are lost to underride collisions every year, with Florida unfortunately ranking among the top states for reported fatalities,” Rubio said. “As a parent with kids of driving age, I look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to advance efforts to make our roads safer. I am proud to join my Senate colleagues in reintroducing this legislation that would help save lives.”

“We are thankful for the legislators who have already stepped up to the plate to cosponsor this bill that will end a decades-old public health and traffic safety problem. Thousands of lives have been lost as a result of truck underride. Countless more will die unless the motoring public is protected from this kind of crash. It is the duty of the government to protect its citizens. If Congress is unwilling to protect their constituents from death by underride, who will?” said Marianne Karth and Lois Durso, Stop Underrides Advocates.

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 trailer undercarriage 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. More than 6,000 people died from underride accidents between the years of 1994 and 2018, but this data is estimated to be undercounted due to differences in local police reporting.  

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 current standards are weak and outdated. 

In addition to requiring underride guards on the sides and front of a truck and updating the outdated standards for underride guards on the back of trucks, this legislation would also ensure that the annual inspection for all large trucks includes underride guards as part of the inspection and would require the Department of Transportation to review underride standards periodically to evaluate the need for changes in response to advancements in technology.