Underride truck guards: Federal government moving towards rule change

Announcement 2 years after Contact 5 probe

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announcing the agency is taking the first step in a process that could result in new guidelines for underride truck guards.

The guards are steel bumpers on the back of big rig trucks. They're supposed to keep drivers from sliding under a truck in the event of a crash.  But they're not always holding up. 

For the last year, advocates have aggressively asked the government to  toughen standards for these guards and after a Contact 5 Investigation in May, 2012 some lawmakers also made the same request.

"We know that there's a problem when more than 400 Americans lose their lives in these gruesome accidents and more than 5,000 Americans are injured. We know that this is a serious problem," said Florida Congressman Ted Deutch shortly after Contact 5 exposed the problems.

Last year, Marianne Karth, a Truck Safety Coalition Volunteer, took on the fight against the feds after losing her daughters in an underride truck crash one year ago. 

The Karth family created a petition which gained more than 11,000 supporters seeking to improve underride guard protections.

In a statement from the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency stated, it "is deeply committed to improving large truck safety. Today, the agency initiated a rulemaking process to evaluate options for enhancing the safety of rear impact guards on trailers and single-unit trucks, in response to a petition delivered to the agency by members of the Karth family and the Truck Safety Coalition.   NHTSA is looking into potential improvements based on its field analysis, IIHS’s (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) tests, international standards, input from stakeholders and other data that may inform potential changes to existing federal safety standards - including enhanced rear-impact guard requirements."

The next step will be to evaluate options to increase the safety of these bumper guards.  Also under consideration, a request to improve side guard requirements and even front guards.