Consumer Watch: IIHS test shows safer tractor trailer manufacturing

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on March 14, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 14 at 5:02 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- A new report finds that while the odds of surviving a crash into the back of a tractor trailer have improved, certain collisions are still more deadly than others.

A passenger car colliding with the back of a semi-trailer at highway speeds (underride) can leave a car's occupants susceptible to severe head and neck injuries, even death, when the top of the car is crushed.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has run crash tests of eight types of semitrailers and has found that most underride guards, which are the steel bars that hang from the backs of trailers, do a decent job of preventing passenger cars from sliding underneath in the even of a crash.

Still, the IIHS tests found that crashes that involved the outer edge of those trailers could put passengers in greater danger. The typical underride guard is suspended from two vertical components hanging relatively near the center of the truck. This means that the part of the guard that sticks out toward the ends of the truck does not have a lot of support.

The number of passengers killed in accidents where the front of a vehicle strikes the rear of a truck has dropped over the last decade though data does not track how many of these crashes specifically involved underride.

The good news for drivers is that many trailer manufacturers have been installing underride guards that are even stronger that US guidelines require.

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