The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has announced the results of two tests designed to evaluate the potential benefits of installing underride guards on the sides of truck trailers.
One test was designed to serve as a base case. The trailer was equipped with conventional trailer skirts--but no guard. The other test involved a side underride guard manufactured by AirFlow Deflector Inc. It, too, had trailer skirts, but they were reinforced by a side underride guard that extended virtually all of the space between the landing gear and rear suspension.
In both tests, a midsize car struck the center of a 53-foot-long dry van trailer at a speed of 35 mph. In the test involving the side underride guard, the guard bent but did not allow the car to go underneath the trailer. The car’s airbags inflated as designed, and the safety belt properly restrained the test dummy in the driver seat.
In the second test, where no side underride guard was installed, the car ran into the trailer and continued to move under the trailer. The impact sheared off part of the roof, and the sedan became wedged beneath the trailer. In a real-world crash like this, any occupants in the car would likely sustain fatal injuries, according to IIHS.
“Our tests and research show that side underride guards have the potential to save lives,” said David Zuby, executive vice president and chief research officer at IIHS. “We think a mandate for side underride guards on large trucks has merit, especially as crash deaths continue to rise on our roads.
“We are not ready to petition the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for rulemaking, but we will share our findings with regulators when they are complete. Right now we want fleets to be aware of the safety benefits of side underride guards.”