The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is calling on the federal government to increase standards for semi-truck trailers to prevent passenger cars from sliding underneath in rear-end collisions.
The institute filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require better rear guards on truck trailers to reduce deaths in such accidents.
“Cars’ front-end structures are designed to manage a tremendous amount of crash energy in a way that minimizes injuries for their occupants,” institute President Adrian Lund said. “Hitting the back of a large truck is a game changer. You might be riding in a vehicle that earns top marks in frontal crash tests, but if the truck’s underride guard fails — or isn’t there at all — your chances of walking away from even a relatively low-speed crash aren’t good.”
NHTSA estimates that 423 people die each year in passenger vehicles that strike the back of large trucks.
The IIHS tested a Chevrolet Malibu – an IIHS Top Safety Pick – in crashes with trailers from three manufacturers, Wabash, Hyundai and Vanguard. It found that in 35 mph crashes where the car struck a parked trailer squarely, crashes with the Hyundai and Vanguard trailers would likely be fatal, with serious intrusions in the passenger compartment, but the car that crashed into the Wabash trailer did better.