Mounting tractor-trailer trucks with side underride guards could save lives in Illinois and nationwide, according to a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The study marks the first time the agency has analyzed the effectiveness of side underride guards on trailers.

In the spring, IIHS conducted tests comparing the protective capabilities of a side underride protection device with that of a fiberglass side skirt. The AngelWing device, manufactured by Airflow Deflector Inc., is designed to prevent motor vehicles from sliding beneath tractor-trailers in a crash. The fiberglass side skirt is only intended to boost aerodynamics. To test each device, the agency crashed a midsize car into the side of a 53-foot trailer at 35 mph. The first test showed that the AngelWing device bent from the force of the collision but prevented the car from sliding beneath the trailer. In the second test, the fiberglass side skirt allowed the car to smash under the trailer, shearing off part of the roof. IIHS said the second crash would likely have been fatal.

A representative of IIHS said that the nonprofit organization believes side underride protection devices will save lives. The organization is advocating for a mandate on the devices, particularly given the increase in U.S. traffic fatalities in recent years.

Truck accidents seriously injure thousands of Americans each year. When they are caused by the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company, injured victims may want to meet with an attorney to determine how they might seek compensation for their losses.

Source: Overdrive Online, “Testing shows underride guards for trailer sides cuts injury, fatality risk“, May 12, 2017