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Safety advocates urge greater regulation for trucks

People in California and across the country are urging members of Congress to act on proposed legislation that aims to reduce the number of deadly underride truck accidents. In an underride crash, a car slides and is captured underneath a semi-trailer or other large commercial truck. These collisions are often fatal because the underride can lead to severe head and neck injuries, including decapitation. Each year, hundreds of people lose their lives in these types of crashes. These accidents can be catastrophic even at relatively low rates of speed.

Following growing concern about the danger of underride trucking crashes, members of Congress from both major parties introduced the Stop Underrides Act of 2017. The bill would mandate increased safety requirements for trucks designed to prevent this type of accident. It would require commercial trucks to install underride guards on the front and sides of the vehicle. Rear underride guards are already required under federal safety standards, but the bill would update existing specifications. In addition, the bill would mandate inspecting for underride guards as part of required annual inspections, and the Department of Transportation would need to review these standards every five years.

Despite widespread support from safety advocates, including parents of children who died in underride crashes, the bill has languished. As of December 2018, it was stalled in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for at least a year. No hearings on the bill are scheduled at least until the newly elected Congress returns in January 2019.

Truck accidents can be particularly devastating for drivers and passengers in cars and other smaller vehicles. Many of these crashes are caused by negligent, tired or distracted truck drivers or even defective equipment. A personal injury lawyer might help accident victims to pursue compensation for their damages after a crash.

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