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How one simple truck modification can save drivers’ lives

The deadliest crashes in New York and the rest of the world involve trucks and a smaller vehicle. One of the worst cases is when a car crashes into the side of a truck. Why is this worse than crashing into the back? At the side angle, cars are more likely to slide under the truck, wiping off the top portion of the car and killing drivers and passengers on impact.

According to a CNN article, underride crashes killed 750 people in 2015. This accounts for half of the deadly crashes that occur between cars and trucks. So, what is this one simple modification that can reduce road fatalities? Installing strong side guard rails on semi trucks could make all the difference.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been testing the guard rails and believe they could reduce the risk of injury in 90% of underride crashes. Trucks currently have similar guards on the back, but these are not as strong as the IIHS proposes. It believes governments should require trucks to install the side underride rails, as well as stronger back rails.

Forbes agrees that metal side rails could save lives by reducing the risk of decapitation. In 2015, 1,542 people died after their passenger vehicle crashed into a truck. Of that number, 301 died from side impact and 292 died from striking the back of the truck. In the test conducted by IIHS, the back rails prevented underride at 35 miles per hour when cars struck the trailers head on. But when the figures moved to 50% and less in overlap, the possibility of survival fell steeply.

While federal law requires trucks to at least have underride guards on the back, they are often weak and do not prevent cars from going beneath the truck. The current standard for underride guards are over 20 years old. While proposals for change have been made, none have yet come into effect at the federal level.

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