As you drive Indiana’s roads, highways and freeways, you may notice that many large trucks and tractor-trailers have an extra rear metal bumper hanging down. These extra bumpers go by the name of rear underride guards whose purpose is to protect you in the event of an accident.

Unfortunately, given today’s smaller cars, should you crash into the back of an 18-wheeler or other huge truck, you stand a grave risk of having your vehicle slide underneath its back end before coming to a stop. Without an adequate underride guard, the roof and hood of your car could shear off in an underride accident, and you and your passengers could suffer decapitation in the process.

Rear guards

Since the 1990s, federal laws have mandated that all high-riding trailers contain a rear underride guard. Unfortunately, however, neither Congress nor the Department of Transportation has updated those laws. Consequently, many underride guards fail to serve their intended purpose. Instead of stopping your vehicle from sliding underneath the trailer during a crash, they instead buckle or even break off due to the force of the crash.

Side guards

Amazingly enough, no law requires high-riding trailers to include side underride guards. Forbes reports that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has conducted tests on side underride guards since 2012, with impressive results. In fact, side underride guards have proven to reduce your risk of death by upwards of 90% should you become involved in a side crash.

In 2015, the latest year for which statistics exist, 1,542 motorists lost their lives in a car-truck crash per the IIHS, 301 of them the result of a side crash and 292 of them the result of a rear crash. Nevertheless, no federal legislation has come down mandating side underride guards on high-riding trailers.

Safety experts and activist groups recommend that you and others educate yourselves about the benefit of side underride guards and work to ensure their installation on large trucks and the trailers of 18-wheelers.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.