Car-Semi Crashes Scrutinized

By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV

ARLINGTON, Va. (WCCO) — Every year more than 400 people die from what’s referred to as under-ride, when a car crashes into the back of a semi truck and slips under the trailer.

Safety experts say it’s completely preventable and it’s time for the federal government to do something about it. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is calling on the federal government to make stricter standards for the under-ride guard in the back of semi-trailers.

“We studied how under ride guards are performing in real world crashes and discovered many are failing catastrophically,” said Adrian Lund of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Safety experts released video of the crash testing they did. It shows the vehicles smashing into the back of the semi and sliding underneath the trailer. The guard bends and breaks away from the trailer.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the under-ride guards aren’t as strong as they could be.

In one of the tests, they used a Chevy Malibu with a 5-star safety rating. The car retained “lots of survival space in the occupant compartment” after being involved in a crash with another vehicle at 40 miles per hour.

However, another Chevy Malibu that crashed into the back of a semi-trailer at 35 miles per hour showed the front end completely smashed and the top of the car crushed underneath the trailer.

“This never got a chance to do its work,” said Lund. “Real people could have been decapitated in a crash like this.”

Safety experts say hitting a brick wall would actually be safer given all of the advances in safety technology.

“”It’s hard to look at that video and not think wait a minute, something needs to be done here. There’s a clear a step needs to be taken,” said Bill Graves, President and CEO of American Trucking Associations.

Representatives with the trucking industry have also said it’s time to do something about this. Right now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s aware of the problem but has made no commitment to changing regulations anytime soon.

  • rj

    A piece of the solution for the horrendous crashes is putting into law bans for semis from rush hour traffic and enforcement of tailgating by semis. I know there is an issue when cars continually cut in front of them but I’ve seen dangerous drivers that drive semis like a sports car, getting involved in road rage type behavior. This has got to stop. I already don’t travel on high traffic holidays and have considered many times to quit driving to work also. It’s too stressful. Hurry up light rail!!!!

    • D S

      Agrred! I know too many people that have been hit or run off thet road by semi trucks and the trucks don’t even stop.

  • JB

    Since when has it been illegal to be driving a lgally licensed car and get rear ended? Instead of costing everyone more money, let us quit trying to beat Nature, we never will. Every time we idiot proof one part of life, the human being creates a dumber idiot. If you can not see that rather large thing in front of you, well then you are either impared or driving too fast for conditions. In either case, nature is about to try to clorinate the gene pool. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, nature has more clorine than we ever will have enough laws.

  • DG

    Ban semis from rush hour? Who do you think that will affect in the end? That would increase the cost of shipping and therefore increase products shipped. ie: groceries, fuel etc. For those of you that have never driven a commercial vehicle…imagine driving in traffic with a bunch of mindless bumblebees.

  • RM

    how bout cars quit tail gating, how about the same speed limit for cars and commercial vehicles , and enforce the limit so the cars are not driving at 70 to 80 mph when the trucks are either at 55 0r 65., or how about stopping texting by car drivers. I can not count the total of people I see texting while driving. I even saw a police officer the other day holding his cell phone with one hand, typing on his laptop with the other and steering with his knee at 65 mph

  • elaine

    commerical truck drivers are better trained than the average driver, I have seen cars cutting in and out thru traffic with no regard to anyone else on the road. Don’t blame the truckers for mistakes the tail gaters make, leave a little “wiggle room” to manuver yourself out of a sitluation.

  • melinda

    My husband has driven truck (semi) for over 10 years. You four wheelers (normal drivers) need to stay off of semis butts. My step dad was a semi driver and he told me at a yound age if you can’t see the semi drivers mirrors they can’t see you. And from the back of their trailer to the front of the trair is a blind spot in most of it that’s why there is a blinker there so u know. But taking them off the roads for rush hour “are you stupid”. They already have so many rules already. If you take them off the road for 3 to 4 hours a day company’s are doing to be delayed on getting their stuff and it would add an extra day to the drivers week. Everyone needs to slow down and give them self so time. Its always easy to point fingers at people and blame them but the fact is its not always the semi driver. My mom said something to me at a young ago to and it was I would rather show up late somewhere then never show up at all. Think people think

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  • dd

    People just need to learn that semi’s can’t stop as fast as a car, and that if you tail gate them they can’t see you or the saying goes if you can’t see the semi’s mirrors they can’t see you…. People just need to learn to back off semi’s…. The drivers require more training and carry higher risks when it comes to accidents, they go in the ditch they get fined it’s not like with a car… someone cuts them off and that person gets hit it’s the semi drivers fault… to say semi’s shouldn’t be allowed in rush hour, obviously you don’t know that many have deadlines to meet and if they aren’t met they get in trouble for it…. they supply many goods and without them doing it I don’t want to know what would happen to prices…. Granted yes some have the complex “I am bigger than everyone they have to get out of my way” but many don’t…. I kno this because I know many truck drivers personally and they take their work seriously and I have seen the stress they go through just trying to keep their records in good standings, even if it is hard when others are careless and they get blamed for it….

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