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Government proposes new standards for underride guards

Truck drivers in Louisiana and throughout the country may be required to comply with additional regulations for underride guards if a proposal by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is adopted. Underride guards are designed to keep cars from skidding under trucks in an accident and having their tops sheared off. While rear underride guards have been required on commercial trucks since the 1950s, there is no requirement for side underride guards. Furthermore, no standards are in place for the rear underride guards. Therefore, in some cases, they are so poorly made that they do not prevent a car from going under the truck.

The trucking industry is concerned with the cost of upgraded underride guards and the effect they might have on their payloads due to weight. Estimates of the cost of the upgrade have ranged from $20 to $2,000, and one manufacturer claims that it is possible to upgrade bars with a weight increase of only about 20 pounds.

Another issue is that there are not clear statistics on fatalities due to underride accidents. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, between 1994 and 2014, more than 5,000 people died as a result of underride accidents. In 2014, 228 people died. However, the Advancement of Automotive Medicine says the number of side crash deaths might be three times higher.

Due to issues like the possibility of sliding under a truck, potentially hazardous materials being carried and the size and weight of a truck, truck accidents may be particularly serious. There are also a number of issues with safety in the trucking industry including truck driver fatigue and driving under the influence. A person who is injured in an accident with a truck driver due to the truck driver's negligence might want to have the help of a lawyer when seeking compensation from the driver and the driver's employer.

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