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NHTSA calls for rear-impact guards to be even safer

It can be truly terrifying to be traveling along the highway only to have traffic come to a sudden halt, forcing you to apply your brakes, and hope in that split-second that you aren't hit from behind and are able to come to a complete stop before striking the vehicle in front of you.

Indeed, this becomes all the more terrifying if the vehicle immediately in front of you is a truck, as there is a chance that your vehicle could "underride" the rear of the trailer it's pulling. 

The term underride references when a smaller passenger car slides underneath a trailer, bringing the top-half of the passenger compartment into direct contact with the higher-sitting structure, something that can cause serious -- and often fatal -- injuries to vehicle occupants.

As unsettling as this is, the good news is that the risks of truck-underride accidents have been greatly reduced over the last decade thanks to the introduction of standards by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calling for the rear-impact guards on trailers to be able to withstand rear-end crashes of at least 30-miles-per-hour.

In fact, the NHTSA indicated just this month that it will soon be introducing a new standard calling for these rear-impact guards to be able to withstand rear-end crashes of at least 35-miles-per-hour, which is currently the standard in Canada.

“Robust trailer rear-impact guards can significantly reduce the risk of death or injury to vehicle occupants in the event of a crash into the rear of a trailer or semitrailer,” said one NHTSA official.

While it may seem as if compliance with this proposal would necessitate a massive undertaking, agency officials indicate that the vast majority of trailers rolling off assembly lines already meet the 35-mile-per-hour standard and that the overall cost of implementing the measure would be only about $13 million.

For their part, both the trucking industry and vehicle safety advocacy groups have expressed support for the proposal, saying the enhanced standards will not only make rear-impact guards that much safer, but also save a considerable number of lives.

Here's hoping this proves to be the case …

If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident caused by the negligence of another driver, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options for securing justice.  

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