Tractor-trailers are required to have rear underride guards to prevent cars from sliding under them when struck from behind. But there is no such mandate for side underride guards, which have been proven to stop vehicles from sliding under the sides of trailers. One Tennessee family is fighting for a side underride mandate after the death of their son.
Laurie and Randy Higginbotham recently went to Washington, D.C. to speak with trucking and insurance industry leaders about their goal. They believe that side underride guards could have saved their son’s life.
Michael Higginbotham died in 2014. He was driving when an 18-wheeler ahead of him attempted an illegal U-turn. Michael’s car slid underneath the 18-wheeler’s trailer and he died on impact.
Several lawmakers in D.C., including Congressman Steve Cohen, are working on side underride mandate legislation.
Do Side Underride Guards Really Work?
Two years ago, 301 of the 1,542 passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes with tractor-trailers were side underride crashes. That is compared to 292 people who died in rear underride crashes. And yet, rear underride guards are mandated, while side underrides are not.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has conducted several side underride crashes lately. The latest involved a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu smashing into an AngelWing side underride guard at 40 mph. The outcome was similar to a previous 35 mph test. While the side underride guard bent, the car did not go underneath the trailer. The airbag and seat belt properly restrained a crash-test dummy, and measures taken from the dummy showed a low likelihood of injuries had it been a real crash.
Psalm 86:15, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”