Why Aren’t Side Guards Mandatory for U.S. 18-Wheelers?

The trucking industry continues to avoid mandatory side guard rails despite evidence this simple safety feature would save lives and reduce injuries, according to a recent report on NBC’s Today.

Side guards have been required standard equipment since the 1980s for trucks operating in Europe and Japan, and other countries are following suit. But in the U.S., where the trucking industry lobbies Congress heavily in support of numerous transportation issues, requiring side guards on all trucks hasn’t gained the necessary support of lawmakers and regulators. The Department of Transportation has considered making these devices mandatory since the 1960s, but the trucking industry opposes them on the grounds they are not cost effective and may dangerously increase the weight of the trailer.

But according to the report on Today, the devices can help prevent nine of 10 injuries from underride collisions, in which a car collides with the side of a tractor-trailer and crashes underneath it, many times with catastrophic results. Approximately 200 Americans die each year in underride collisions, and many more are seriously injured.

“Our firm has represented numerous victims of crashes involving 18-wheelers and other heavy commercial trucks whose injuries likely would have been lessened or prevented by these side guard devices,” said Mark Murray of Stevenson & Murray. “We’re encouraged to see the documented benefits of these devices and hope lawmakers in this country will move forward to protect drivers sharing the roadways with commercial trucks.”

Watch the Today report here.

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