OOIDA says GAO report confirms data doesn't back underride mandate

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 4/16/2019

A day after the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a 46-page report on truck underride guards, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said the data does not justify a mandate.

OOIDA, which is opposed to the Stop Underrides Act, was one of the dozens of stakeholders who participated in the report.

“As part of the report, OOIDA conveyed to GAO that there’s not enough data to justify what the Stop Underrides Act would mandate on virtually every tractor-trailer in the United States,” said Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s manager of government affairs. “The final GAO report confirms what we’ve said all along. OOIDA has never been opposed to practical and cost-effective solutions that improve highway safety, but the Stop Underrides Act doesn’t fit in either category.”

The report, which was released on April 15, made four recommendations:

  • The administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should help provide a standardized definition of underride crashes and to include underride as a recommended data field.
  • The NHTSA administrator should provide information to state and local police departments on how to identify and record underride crashes.
  • The administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should revise the agency’s regulations to require that rear guards are inspected during commercial vehicle annual inspections.
  • The NHTSA administrator should conduct additional research on side underride guards to better understand the overall effectiveness and cost associated with these guards and, if warranted, develop standards for their implementation.

Other key findings from the report include that about 95% of all newly manufactured trailers already meet the proposed requirements for rear guards, and that manufacturers told GAO that they would be unlikely to move forward with the development of side underride guards without research that determines the effectiveness and cost of the guards.

In March, lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced the Stop Underrides Act, which would require tractor-trailers to have underride guards on the sides and front. 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. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., sponsored the Senate version, while Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced the House bill.

According to the GAO report, less than 1% of the total number of traffic fatalities from 2008 through 2017 involved underride crashes.

OOIDA has called a mandate of underride guards costly and impractical and has said that the Stop Underride Act goes too far, requiring truckers to install underride guards on trailers that can’t accommodate them.

“We’ll continue to engage lawmakers, industry stakeholders, and the general public on the issue, but we simply can’t support what would likely be the most expensive federal trucking mandate ever in its current form,” Matousek said.



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