Since 2017 companion bipartisan bills regarding the use of under-ride guards for road safety have been introduced. In March 2019 the idea was reintroduced and quickly dismissed by ATA and OOIDA. ATA stated that ‘the government should focus more on crash avoidance technologies and strategies than expensive and unproven collision mitigation equipment.”
The U.S Senate and House have proposed these bills in remembrance of the thousands of victims of under-ride crashes and at the recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
In a recent press release announcing the bill, Representative Mark DeSaulnie (D-CA) stated that at least 300 victims are killed each year from under-ride crashes.
As of now, trailer rear guards (DOT bumpers) are required by law, but the bill’s sponsors say that the current standards are outdated. In rebuttal to this claim OOIDA President, Todd Spencer noted ‘we agree that the underride guards on the back of trailers could be improved, but the proposals as written go too far in broadly, retroactively requiring them on all trucks and trailers. His final statement was that trucking is a diverse industry and attaching side under-ride guards is not a simple task to require them to be attached on all equipment.
The indifference over the topic between the House and Senate versus trucking advocates could essentially go on and on, however, it is okay to assume that everyone wants the same thing which is safer roads. There is no trucker who would want to be a part of a tragic under-ride crash and there is no just-lawmaker who would feel content with having the opportunity to do something and remain silent and out of the conversation.
A Cause With A Name
The Stop Underrides Act, S. 2219, formally known as the Roya, AnnaLeah, and Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 (RAMCUP Act of 2017), was created in memory of 3 lives lost due to underride crashes. The 3 victims mothers, Marianne Karth, and Lois Durso originally drafted the bill in hopes to prevent under-ride crashes everywhere.
Lois Durso, mother of 26-year old Roya, who lost her life in 2004 recently told reporters, “it is not the crash that kills, it’s the underride. If you can prevent the under-ride, there’s a chance the vehicle occupants will survive.”
Although companion bills have been drafted since 2017, the study to extend underride protection has been going on since 1969 by the Department of Transportation. That is roughly 15,000 deaths that could have been prevented. The U.S Senate and House do not have to rely on the ATA or the OOIDA to make side under-ride guards a requirement, but there are other methods that can help in preventing under-ride crashes.
According to Marianne Karth opposition has come from the trucking industry since 1977 by both manufacturers and haulers. These two parties back their opposition with wanting to see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provide automobiles with capabilities to prevent cars from crashing into trucks.
Karth, as well as other side under-ride guard advocates, commend 4 major trailer manufacturers for their progress to install guards, and also nods the individuals and representatives from the trucking industry involved in her Under-ride Roundtable.
Although those select manufacturers are praised for making progress, Karth has mentioned several times on her blog, dedicated to her two daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, that she will not give up the fight to seek further action.
Saving someone else from experiencing what both Durso and Karth are going through is the overall goal. Contrary to what ATA and OOIDA believe the requirements these two grieving mothers and lawmakers are hoping to put into place is not designed to cost those in the industry more money.