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The controversy surrounding tractor trailer underride guards

When motorists ride next to tractor trailers on Tennessee roadways, they may feel comforted by the fact that these massive vehicles, truck drivers and trucking companies are regulated by several federal and state agencies. As the large truck accident fatality rate continues to increase, however, many people are wondering whether the current big rig safety devices are enough. One safety regulation requires certain big rigs to be equipped with rear-end underride guard bars that are designed to protect smaller passenger vehicles from riding underneath the truck if a collision occurs. Unfortunately, a number of these safety mechanisms are not built strong enough to withstand the force of an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, many underride bars run the risk of breaking or crushing under pressure, which poses an even bigger threat to motorists.

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, Canada also requires trucks to be equipped with underride guards. However, they mandate that the guards must be able to handle an impact of nearly twice the force of what current American underride guards are required to have. Studies found that the Canadian models are often more effective at preventing serious injuries caused by underride bars. The NHTSA is petitioning to strengthen the current underride guard standards, and to expand the use of these safety devices to all types of large trucks.

Currently, there are no regulations in the United States mandating the use of side-rail or front-rail bars, despite research showing that side-rail guards in large trucks could possibly reduce the risk of serious injuries and deaths, according to the IIHS. Although truck manufacturers are not required to build the stronger underride bars, some companies have built the underride guards according to Canadian standards.  

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