The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering higher standards for rear impact guards on trailers.
In a notice published in the July 10 Federal Register, the NHTSA said that the National Transportation Safety Board has partnered with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, asking the administration improve the durability and reliability of rear impact guards, also known as underride guards.
In an effort to help prevent fatalities caused by vehicles sliding underneath tractor-trailers and single-unit trucks, petitioners asked the NSTA to raise its standards for rear-impact guards similar to those of Canada, with include stronger material with energy-absorbtion requirements.
Petitioners also proposed the NHTSA begin safety studies on side and front override guards.
The agency said it’s currently evaluating the petitioners’ requests and will issue a separate decision on the necessary changes at a later date.
In 2011, 260 of the 2,241 passenger vehicle occupants killed in large truck crashes died when the fronts of their vehicles struck the rears of trucks. That’s down from 460 out of 3,693 in 2004. The decline is likely due in part to changes in both truck and passenger vehicle traffic resulting from the weak economy.
A 2011 IIHS study of 115 crashes in which a passenger vehicle struck the back of a heavy truck or semitrailer found only about one-fifth involved no under ride or negligible under ride. Nearly half of the vehicles had severe or catastrophic under-ride damage, and those vehicles accounted for 23 of the 28 fatal crashes in the study.