Virginia residents should be aware of a push to get lawmakers to pass legislation protecting car occupants from underride crashes. The legislation is aimed at requiring all trucks to have guards on their sides and fronts to prevent vehicles from sliding under them. Currently, underride guards are only required on the backs of trucks. The bill being discussed by federal lawmakers would also require that annual truck inspection include these guards to ensure they are properly attached and in good condition. However, the legislation has not moved forward since it was introduced and is not expected to be discussed again until early 2019.
Underride crashes are often fatal. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released figures in 2011 that showed 260 car occupants were killed as a result of underride collisions that year. Also in 2011, the Truck Safety Coalition found that 19 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions involving passenger vehicles and large trucks involved rear impacts.
A mother who lost two of her daughters in an underride collision has been working to draw attention to the Stop Underrides Act, claiming that lawmakers are not taking the act seriously. Because the bill has been delayed, there have been more accidents that may have been prevented by underride guards. However, even though federal legislation is taking longer than advocates would like, many local jurisdictions are coming up with their own laws and requiring that trucks be fitted with underride guards.
Car occupants who have been injured in a truck accident should consider working with an attorney with experience in trucking company negligence. An attorney may be able to prove that the company was at fault for the accident, leading to compensation for the injured party. Compensation may cover pain and suffering, medical expenses and transportation to and from physical therapy appointments.