New York senator proposes new safety regulations on semi trailers

A group of US lawmakers have announced the creation of a bill requiring semi trailers to be equipped with side underride guards as a way to reduce the number of injuries on the road.

The bill, dubbed the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, was introduced to the public on Tuesday, December 12th by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). So far, it has received support from a group of bipartisan lawmakers including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.).

According to the Stop Underrides website, the bill would require the US Department of Transportation to not only make side underride guards standard on all new semi trailers, but to reevaluate and improve upon the current standards for rear-impact underride guards.

“With so many unpredictable accidents on the road, underride guards are an easy solution for protecting people and preventing them from dying when a car collides with a truck,” said Gillibrand.

Although the bill is still in its early stages of development, the Stop Underrides Act of 2017 will most likely apply to only new trailers, leaving owners of existing trailers to decide for themselves whether or not to install side underride guards.

Earlier in the year, the American Trucking Associations pointed out some of the potential drawbacks of the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, stating that although the guards may improve safety, there are structural issues to consider, reported CCJ.

“For example, side underride guards would add significant weight and require stiffer trailers which can develop cracks in the frame rails during normal operation – wearing out sooner and creating a safety issue of potential trailer failure during operation,” ATA representatives said.

“Wider deployment of advanced vehicle safety technologies like automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning systems can help prevent all kinds of crashes, including those into the sides of trucks,” the ATA added.

The bill is based on the findings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who states that side underride guards will reduce injury risk by up to 75% in side-impact collisions.

“We require seat belts, we require all these other safety standards, weight standards, all of it, for safety reasons, and now with the lives of so many loved ones lost its time for the industry to listen,” Gillibrand said.