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Car-Semi Crashes Scrutinized

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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.

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