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Underride guards could reduce fatalities in truck accidents

New trucking regulations could potentially improve safety on Kentucky roads, yet significant hurdles stand in the way of implementation. Trucking accidents pose a significant risk of severe injuries and death to pedestrians and occupants of smaller vehicles. Data shows that a particular type of tractor-trailer crash, the side-impact, is responsible for more deaths than other impact types. Underride guards have proven capable of reducing the risk of fatality in these types of collisions, but a political environment wary of new regulations has yet to adopt it nationally.

Of the over 4,000 to die in 2017 U.S. truck accidents, the most common cause of death was the exposed area on the side of trailers. The National Transportation and Safety Board has collected data demonstrating that underride guards reduce injuries and deaths in these side-impact truck accidents. The device covers the exposed space between a trailer's fore and rear tire sets, which prevents smaller vehicles or pedestrians from entering and being crushed.

National regulators have been reluctant to act on the data. However, New York and some municipalities have formally adopted side guards, and other states are considering the move. More studies are planned by the NTSB and other safety organizations, which is providing momentum toward increased regulation. Meanwhile, Australia, the United Kingdom and other nations have required upgrades to existing fleets and standardization of underride guards on new manufactures.

Though side-impact truck accidents represent only a fraction of all crashes, they are among the most deadly to Kentucky drivers. Along with a higher risk of fatality is a greater chance of permanent disability and lifelong medical expenses. The victim of a trucking accident may be too grief-stricken or injured to take the actions necessary to protect their family's financial well-being. An experienced attorney could gather results of the police investigation, determine if further investigation is needed and seek compensation for the victim.

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