Families of people who have died in underride collisions gathered Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Washington, D.C. to observe a series of crash tests demonstrating the effectiveness of side underride guards. An underride collision is one in which, because of the mismatch in height between a semitrailer and a passenger car, a portion of the passenger car slides underneath the semitrailer, often resulting in the semitrailer crashing into the “survival space” of the passenger car and killing people in the car.
In the first crash test Tuesday, a Chevrolet Malibu was crashed into the side of a semitrailer that had been equipped with an AngelWing guard, a steel guard manufactured by Airflow Deflector. The AngelWing prevented the car from sliding underneath the trailer and protected the crash test dummy. In the second test, another Chevrolet Malibu was crashed into the side of a semitrailer equipped with a TrailerGuard Safety Skirt, a lightweight fabric guard, which also prevented the car from sliding underneath the trailer and protected the crash test dummy. The third test demonstrated the danger of underride presented by trailers without guards, as a Chevrolet Malibu was crashed into the side of a semitrailer with no guard. The car slid underneath the trailer and the bottom rail of the trailer intruded into the survival space in the area of the driver’s head and upper torso.
Semitrailer manufacturers have refused to install side underride guards on trailers unless and until it becomes mandated by federal law.
A bipartisan bill that has been introduced in Congress would require semitrailer manufacturers to manufacture trailers with side underride guards. Members of Congress and representatives of the trailer manufacturing industry were invited to watch Tuesday’s crash test.