You probably don’t think of either glamorous Hollywood actresses or gruesome deaths when you look at the underride guard (also called Mansfield Bar) on the back of your truck — but maybe you should.
Jayne Mansfield is best remembered as a cultural icon and Hollywood star, but it was her death almost 50 years ago still has an impact on trucking today. Mansfield was killed in 1967 when the car she was riding in rear-ended an 18-wheeler that slowed for a mosquito fogging truck. The mosquito fog clouded the highway and the 1966 Buick Electra slid underneath. Mansfield, her lawyer, and the car’s driver were all killed in the crash, while Mansfield’s three children in the backseat survived. Rumors that Mansfield was decapitated are probably untrue, but she did suffer severe head trauma.
The crash scene was so horrific that the NHTSA soon required that trucks be fitted with underride guards, or Mansfield bars, to prevent cars from rolling underneath trailers.
On an interesting side note, Mansfield’s daughter who survived the crash, then 3 years old, grew up to become Law & Order actress Mariska Hargitay.