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Bipartisan bills could require trucks to install underride guards

Large commercial trucks can pose a serious danger to smaller passenger vehicles. Because of their size, they tend to cause severe autobody damage or inflict personal injuries to the other parties in a crash. In some instances, a small car may even slide underneath the side or front of a tractor-trailer, leading to catastrophic injuries or fatalities.

A bipartisan bill aims to prevent injuries and deaths from accidents in which cars slide under semi-trucks or trailers. The bill, known as the Stop Underrides Act, introduced recently in the U.S. Senate with an identical bill in the House, would require tractors and trailers to be equipped with front and side underride guards.  The measures' opponents argue that this would be a costly and unnecessary restriction for the trucking and trailer manufacturing industry. Advocates, however, say that it could save lives.

What are underride guards?

Underride guards are metal barriers attached to the underside of a trailer that are designed to prevent other cars from sliding underneath the trailer in a crash. Currently, the United States requires commercial semitrailers to have underride guards installed in the back, but not on the front or sides. The newly introduced bills would require the installation of back, front and side underride guards.

Reactions to the bill are mixed

The companion bills have bipartisan support in the House and Senate. The largest opposition comes from the powerful trucking industry, with the Truck-Trailer Manufacturers Association, American Trucking Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposing the legislation. These organizations contend that front and side underride guards are expensive and unnecessary.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Transportation Safety Bureau, however, disagree, and they support tougher standards for front and side underride guards on trucks.

What does the bill mean for New Mexico?

Far too many people in New Mexico experience trucking accidents. The bipartisan support of these bills in both the House and the Senate shows the significance of these safety requirements. The measure, if successful, could prevent injuries and fatalities in our state and throughout the country. It is very hopeful that, with the support of multiple representatives in Congress, commercial trucks in New Mexico could soon have life-saving underride guards.

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