Stop Underrides Act reintroduced in House, Senate

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 3/6/2019

Four lawmakers have reintroduced legislation to prevent underride crashes.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. Steven Cohen, D-Tenn., and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., introduced the Stop Underrides Act on Tuesday, March 5. S665 and HR1511 would require tractor-trailers to have underride guards on the sides and front.

“Congress has the ability to make simple and commonsense changes that would save lives on the road,” Gillibrand said in a news release. “Truck underride guards are one of the best and easiest solutions for protecting passengers and preventing them from being killed when a car collides with a truck.”

Similar measures were previously introduced in December 2017. Those advocating for the bills say that studies show that an underride guard, which is a barrier attached to the lower area of a truck, would help prevent a car from sliding underneath a truck during a crash.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to the mandate and sent letters to lawmakers after the previous bills were introduced. OOIDA argues that truckers shouldn’t be forced to install costly devices when there is no proof that they increase safety.

“The mandates you’re promoting may actually increase the number of crashes on American highways, while simultaneously worsening their severity,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote in a letter to Gillibrand and Rubio in January 2018. “Your legislation also creates serious economic hardships and operational challenges for small trucking businesses, which comprise 96 percent of U.S. motor carriers.”

OOIDA said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has considered similar proposals over the past 50 years but determined that a mandate would be impractical.

“Equipment with the strength needed to prevent underride would have the ability to absorb energy in a collision, creating potentially more severe dangers for automobile passengers,” Spencer wrote.

 

 

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