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Safety agency: Side underride guards can save lives

Crashes between cars and trucks often turn out far worse for the occupants of the smaller of the two vehicles. Many are fatal for those in the car. That's why it's essential to be sure to keep out of a truck's blind spots and to keep a safe distance when you encounter them on the road.

Fatal car/truck crashes are increasing. In 2015, over 1,500 motorists were killed in collisions with tractor-trailers. Twenty percent of those fatalities involved the car striking the side of the truck.

A potentially gruesome scenario is when a car goes underneath the truck. As tests involving crash test dummies have demonstrated, occupants of those in the car can suffer severe and potentially fatal head injuries -- even when a large truck is traveling no more than 35 mph.

While large trucks are required under federal law to be equipped with underride guards, there's no such requirement for guards to be placed on the sides of trucks.

According to an official with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), if these guards were also required for the sides of trucks, "many more people would be alive." That statement is based on a crash test conducted by the IIHS using tractor-trailers equipped with these side underride guards. The IIHS hopes that its results will incentivize truck carriers to include them on their vehicles even if they aren't legally required.

Even if a tractor-trailer has all the safety equipment required by law, if you or a loved one has been injured or worse in a crash with one of these large commercial vehicles, it's essential to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted to determine whether the trucking company, driver and any others can and should be held liable.

Source: CBS SF Bay Area, "A Simple Fix Could Save Lives In Car Vs. Truck Collisions," Julie Watts, accessed June 08, 2017

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