The size of trucks means they can pose a great danger to people in smaller vehicles in an accident. One type of severe or fatal accident that can happen in Georgia is an underride accident in which a car goes under a tractor-trailer. Whether side guards can stop these types of accidents is a point of contention between some members of Congress and parts of the trucking industry. The bipartisan Stop Underrides Act is the third attempt to pass legislation in Congress relating to side guards. It would also require front guards and revise rear underride guard standards.
Groups in support
The executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance supports the act as do several citizen groups. Among them are Stop Underrides, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, and the Institute for Safer Trucking. The bill was also introduced in 2017 and 2019, but it has been altered in its newest version to remove an expensive retrofit requirement.
Objections to side guards
However, there are still objections to the bill. The American Trucking Association says that studies have failed to indicate that the side guards are useful in real-world situations. They also say the bill ignores other safety measures that the trucking industry has developed and forces a one-size-fits-all solution on a diverse industry. Finally, it argues that the guards can affect the structural integrity of trucks and their payload capacity, leading to more miles driven and a greater risk of truck accidents.
Trucking companies may be liable if there is an accident in which someone is injured and the truck driver is found to be responsible. This could include underride accidents but trucks may cause injuries in other ways as well, such as through jackknifing. If the accident is fatal, family members of the person killed may receive compensation.