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Proposed bill seeks to reduce deadly truck crashes

Safety advocates in New York are concerned about the danger posed by often-deadly underride truck crashes. These type of accidents occur when a passenger car slides underneath the front, side or rear of a large commercial truck. In many cases, the top of the car is crushed or severed, causing catastrophic and often fatal injuries. Severe head and neck injuries are closely linked to underride crashes, including decapitations. Indeed, every year, hundreds of people lose their lives in severe trucking crashes that include underride damage.

Federal regulations already require large commercial trucks to install underride guards at the rear end. In 2011, 260 people were killed in underride trucking crashes involving a rear-end collision. However, these guards are not required for the front or sides of semi-trailers. A bipartisan bill introduced into Congress, the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, aims to change that. In addition to mandating front and side underride guards, the bill would also require these guards to be present as part of a truck's annual safety inspection. It would update the existing standards for rear underride guards. The proposed legislation would also require the Department of Transportation to review the underride standards every five years.

Despite widespread support from safety advocates, including parents whose children lost their lives in truck accidents, the bill has stalled in Congress. For over a year, it sat without action in the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. No hearings are scheduled on the bill until at least January 2019, when the new Congress will return.

Trucking accidents of any kind can cause catastrophic injuries, especially to the inhabitants of other, smaller vehicles. Many of these crashes are caused by negligent truck driving or even poorly maintained equipment. Accident victims might opt to work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for their damages.

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