Atlanta, Georgia has some of the most dangerous interstate highways in the United States. More fatalities per miles traveled occurred on the I-285 than on any other interstate nationwide during 2013. Given the fact that the NHTSA estimates almost 4,000 people died in accidents involving large trucks in 2014, we can safely assume that a significant portion of those individuals died on Georgia highways close to home.
Truck accidents are deadly—there’s no doubting this fact. The massive amount of force and weight commercial big rigs and 18-wheelers carry behind them almost ensures that any type of accident involving a large truck will result in serious injuries if not death.
One of the most common types of fatality-causing truck accidents occurs when a smaller passenger vehicle hits the side of a semi-truck. This can cause the car to forcibly slide underneath the truck’s side carriage, shearing off the top of the passenger vehicle, often instantly killing the passengers inside. Statistics estimate that roughly 200 people die every year from underride crashes of this type.
Rear underride crashes used to be another common type of truck accident in the U.S. These occur when a smaller passenger vehicle hits the back of a truck’s carriage and is forced underneath. Thanks to regulations passed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1998, these accidents don’t occur very often anymore. All commercial semi-trucks are required to have rearguards in place which stop a car from sliding underneath during a collision.
One questions remains: Why isn’t there a similar regulation in place for sideguards? In Europe, sideguards have been required since 1989. United States safety advocates and families of truck accident victims have been fighting for mandatory sideguards and rearguards since the 1960s, but they’ve faced an uphill battle the entire time.
The Power to Make Change
The U.S. trucking industry argues that truck sideguards are not cost-effective, weigh too much, and weaken the trailer as a whole. Safety experts argue that these points are not true and that the trucking industry simply does not want to spend the extra money to upgrade our nation’s trucks. Doing so would be a considerable cost, to be sure, but one that would save over 200 lives every year.
There is also evidence suggesting that the Truck Trailers Manufacturers Association has lobbied Congress to vote against sideguards and has even donated money to members of Congress to encourage members to not include sideguards in recent highway bills. Thus far, their tactics have seemed to work.
Congress is the one organization that could force regulation changes that would make Atlanta’s roads and our nation’s roads safer for everyone. It’s important for family members of accident victims who have been impacted by the lack of those regulations to have their voices heard. If enough voices are heard, change will result.
If you or someone you love was killed or seriously injured in a commercial truck accident—whether it involved the truck’s underride or not—taking legal action can help your voice be heard. Together, we can save lives. To learn more, get in touch with Bey & Associates today. Our Atlanta law firm can pair you with an expert Georgia truck accident lawyer who can tell you the merits of your case today.