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Testing New Semi-Truck Safety Gear

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than one-quarter of all motor vehicle crashes are rear-end collisions. The NHTSA first revealed those numbers in an attempt to encourage the implementation of a certain type of safety technology - forward collision avoidance systems. The numbers could also be used to support a new type of technology being tested for use on semi-trailers - a new form of rear underride guard.

Unfortunately, when a typical car strikes the back of a semi-trailer, the result is catastrophic. Cars often end up crushed underneath big rigs with the top smashed or sheared. Many of these accidents cause serious injuries or fatalities. A new style of underride guard could help stop these vehicles behind trailers, rather than underneath them. That would mean the difference between a driver's head striking the rear of the trailer and the driver's head striking an air bag. The goal is to improve the survivability of this type of serious accident.

Many semi-trailers are currently equipped with underride guards that are not strong enough to withstand many rear-end collisions. Those guards break or buckle upon collision, allowing the colliding vehicle to slide under the trailer. U.S. regulators have reported that they are looking into a new standard for these guards that would improve safety. New guards could greatly enhance the chances of surviving a collision with the back of a tractor-trailer. Further testing is needed and new safety standard will likely be required before new guards become the norm on semi-trucks.

Source: Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, "On guard: Safety gear on the back of truck trailers is improving," 9 October 2014 

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