Safety group pushes to make side guards mandatory on semi trucks - WNEM TV 5

Safety group pushes to make side guards mandatory on semi trucks

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There are few vehicle accidents as deadly as when a car careens into the side of a big rig tractor trailer.

An auto safety group said that danger can be dramatically reduced.

New tests show strong side guards on semi trucks can prevent many of the deaths in so-called under ride crashes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is pushing for new rules that make those side guards mandatory on all trucks.

Doug Ewing has been driving trucks for 26 years. He starts his day by ensuring his load is secure so it doesn't shift. But that's not the hardest part of the job.

"And as you take off, as the day goes on then you gotta watch out for the other people. There's always that challenge going on out there," Ewing said.

In a recent report, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said side guards, when reinforced with metal ribs, have the potential to prevent a car's hood from sliding under the trailer.

Ewing said he's all for having the guards.

"Cause I mean, you always got people coming up on you," Ewing said.

In 2015 under ride crashes caused about 750 deaths, according to the insurance institute.

Now that group wants truck makers to make side guards mandatory on all trucks.

Ewing, who covers several hundred miles a day, said distracted driving is a huge issue. He thinks it plays a role in those kinds of accidents.

"Changing lanes, trying to merge on, not looking," Ewing said.

The insurance institute tested side rails covered with fiberglass. Those rails were able to prevent a midsize car going 35 miles per hour from going under a truck.

For drivers like Ewing, the danger is all around every day.

"A lot of times I look over, catch people kind of doing a looking down - texting all the time. That's the biggest thing I see out there all the time," Ewing said.

The insurance institute has not tested guards at high speeds. It is unclear if side guards would prevent deaths in cases where speed is a factor.

The institute has not yet formally petitioned the government for a new rule regarding side guards. It is conducting more research.

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