Fifty years ago, the death of a celebrity on a Louisiana highway called attention to the dangers of truck underride crashes – crashes in which a car goes under the rear or side of a semitruck, frequently resulting in fatal injuries for the driver and passengers of the car. Unfortunately, little has been done in the following decades to solve the problem.
Jayne Mansfield’s Legacy Extends Beyond The Silver Screen
When actress Jayne Mansfield and several of her friends were killed in an underride accident with a truck in 1967, it called attention to what was already a serious problem.
Unfortunately, it was not until 1998 that rear guards, referred to as Mansfield bars, became a requirement on tractor-trailers. Worse yet, according to an article from NBC News, side guards are still not a requirement. This despite the fact that 200 people a year are killed in side underride truck crashes.
Why Is There No Side Guard Requirement For Trucks?
If there is such a high toll in terms of lives lost due to truck side underride collisions, why is there no requirement for side guards on trucks?
As the article from NBC News mentions, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended this requirement, but lawmakers who receive support from the transportation industry have not taken steps to support such a requirement. The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association says side guards are not technically feasible. The group claims that the addition of side guards would not only be expensive, but could lead to other dangers.
Work still continues to address the now well-known hazards of side underride truck collisions.