It is difficult to imagine that anyone can survive a horrific underride collision. Such a crash occurs when a smaller vehicle slides under the side or rear of a large truck and gets trapped underneath. The top of the smaller vehicle often becomes sheared off.
But the few who survive likely will live with debilitating injuries for the rest of their lives. The ones who do survive face years of rehabilitation and therapy from injuries that may include open skull fractures, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, paralysis and even blindness.
More than 200 die each year
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an average of 219 people died annually in underride crashes on the country’s roads during the 10-year period ending in 2017. However, the government contends that that number is likely higher due to the lack of uniform data reporting by state and local governments.
But these record discrepancies likely will change thanks to a federal rule that updates standards to improve protection for victims of underride collisions.
Updated rule focuses on improving protections
In June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized the rule that addresses improving protections, improving data collection, increasing research on rear-impact guards and creating an advisory committee that will study the effectiveness of side underride guards.
After years of lobbying from vociferous safety advocates and parents of victims who died in underride collisions, this development marks a positive step by the government, which has faced scrutiny for its relative inaction related to underride collisions.
The updated rule is directly tied to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, that also will boost the NHTSA’s budget by 50%. This development is relevant in that the NHTSA’s primary focus is on reducing the country’s deaths, injuries and monetary losses tied to motor vehicle crashes.
Expecting hopeful results
The aftermath of an underride collision is shocking and unforgettable. Perhaps the government’s actions will have an impact in reducing the number of deaths and injuries related to underride collisions. We can only wait and watch.