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750 People a Year Dying Needlessly

We hope the number above got your attention, because the issue we need to tell you about is important.

Did you know that, in 1967, a crash occurred in which an actress, Jayne Mansfield, was decapitated when her car slid under the rear of a tractor-trailer? The outcry after the infamous accident led to the installation of rear guards on trailers, although it did take Congress over 30 years to implement the law.

But: suppose your vehicle slid under the side of a trailer? We still have no mandate for side guards, also known as underride guards, on tractor-trailers. This lack leads to the deaths of hundreds of people every year. One recent example is that of a Florida Tesla driver in May, 2016, who died after his car ran him under the side of a truck’s trailer. A more recent, and perhaps more significant, deadly accident occurred during July, 2017, on I-81 in New York, when a truck’s trailer that was carrying milk jack-knifed. Two different vehicles rammed into the underside of the truck, killing 4 people in all. In the wake of that crash, New York senator Charles Schumer has pleaded with the federal government to require underride guards on tractor-trailers.

Fatal Encounters on the Road

Not many types of crashes are more deadly than a passenger vehicle slamming into the side of a tractor-trailer, because most of the safety devices that we have built into cars over the years do nothing for the occupants in such an accident. Often, the top of the vehicle is sliced off and the occupants are decapitated. This scenario has been proven to be true year after year, and yet Congress has refused to act, despite the high rate of fatalities that could be prevented by requiring side guards or underride guards.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) claims that the dangers of underride guard accidents could be reduced considerably if the guards were made mandatory. In fact, it has been reported that underride crashes account for about half of fatal crashes between passenger vehicles and trucks. In 2015, the number of people who could have been saved amounted to 750, according to the IIHS.

Still not convinced? A 2012 IIHS study concluded that underride guards could reduce injury risk in nearly 9 out of 10 side crashes into tractor-trailers.

An Indiana Case

During a 2005 snowstorm in Indiana, a woman, Roya Sadigh, died when her fiancé lost control of their car, resulting in an underride crash. Sadigh ended up crushed by the trailer’s rear wheels. The mother of the woman commented angrily at the time, “My daughter didn’t [even] make it to the hospital.” If the truck had had side guards, it’s possible her daughter might still be alive.

However, the trucking industry continues to resist the cry for this life-saving addition that would cost only about $2,000 per trailer. The cost works out to a few dollars per trip over the course of the trailer’s first year of usage. After that, there would be virtually no costs to the company. We can only hope that Senator Schumer’s plea to require underride guards will not fall on deaf ears.

When something goes wrong, we are left to wonder.

Indiana truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the burdens caused by overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, we suggest you talk with Indianapolis truck accident lawyer Mike Stephenson. With more than three decades of experience, substantial financial resources to commit to your case, and a commitment to the highest standards of client care, you can count on Mike. Contact him today by calling 1-317-825-5200 for a free accident consultation, or use our online contact form. At McNeely Stephenson, when others breach their duty, we keep ours.