ARLINGTON, VA – New crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) have demonstrated that well-built sideguards could keep passenger vehicles from sliding under the side of a semi-trailer. It was the first time that such guards were tested.
“Our tests and research show that side underride guards have the potential to save lives,” says David Zuby, the institute’s executive vice president and Chief Research Officer. “We think a mandate for side underride guards on large trucks has merit, especially as crash deaths continue to rise on our roads.”
In 2015, 301 people were killed in the U.S. when cars hit the sides of tractor-trailers, while 292 died when passenger vehicles hit trailer rears.
“Because of gaps in federal crash data, IIHS researchers can’t determine exactly how many of these crashes involve underride, but they estimate that underride occurs in about half of fatal crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles,” the organization says. But in 2012, it concluded that strong underride guards could reduce injuries in ¾ of side crashes which led to a fatality or serious injury. When only crashes with semitrailers were considered, the guards were believed to make a difference in 90% of collisions
Two tests were conducted at 55 kilometers per hour, comparing Airflow Deflector’s AngelWing and a fiberglass side skirt designed for aerodynamics alone. When a midsized car hit the center of a 53-foot dry van in the test, the AngelWing bent but kept the car out. In a comparison test, the car ran right through a simple fiberglass side skirt. Part of the car’s roof was sheered off, and the sedan was wedged under the trailer.
Underride guards have been getting some added attention through recent tests by the institute, which led to new ToughGuard ratings that recognize designs which exceed federal standards.