In May of this year, Marianne Karth or North Carolina embarked on a road trip to Texas with her two teenage daughters, but their trip was tragically and horrifically cut short when they were involved in a truck accident on a Georgia freeway.
As Karth and her daughters AnnaLeah, 17, and Mary, 13, were traveling on Interstate 20 when they were struck by a tractor-trailer. Their Crown Victoria was pushed back and underneath the truck.
AnnaLeah was killed instantly. Her daughter, Mary died three days later.
“AnnaLeah died instantly, and Mary died a few days later,” Karth told the Indy Channel. “They died a horrific death. It’s unimaginable.”
Many people may not realize that the metal bars they see underneath trucks are there to prevent cars from sliding underneath these large vehicles. But Karth, who has teamed up with the Truck Safety Coalition, says many of those underride guards are not strong enough to stop a car from sliding underneath a commercial vehicle. She believes if the truck that struck her and her daughters had a stronger underride guard they might be alive today.
The injuries sustained from sliding under a truck can be severe. The victims of these types of accident suffer traumatic head injuries, skull fractures and in the worst case can be decapitated.
Federal regulations require that tractor-trailers have an underride guard on the back of the truck trailer, but there are no requirements on the strength, only that they are utilized. Also, there are no requirements that trucks have a guard along each side. Tougher standards on for underride guards and side guards could prevent a large number of truck accident deaths where a vehicle slides beneath the trailer.
Data from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety shows that in 2012, 260 people died after crashing into the rear of a tractor trailer. The IIHS has been pushing the National Highway Traffic Administration to adopt tougher standards for underride guards.
These guards often fail because they are not strong enough or are poorly maintained or repaired and often ignored all together.
The NHTSA said they tougher standards for underride guards could soon become a reality. The NHTSA plans to use studies they have conducted along with studies from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety to push for tougher standards for underride guards and possibly require side guards.
If tougher standards are passed, the American Trucking Association said the changes could be very costly for drivers and the trucking industry and suggested that underride guards are not necessarily going to save lives. The trucking industry says that many accidents where a vehicle is pushed under another car are typically caused by the motorist and not the truck driver.
While it is true that motorists cause a large number of accidents, many can be attributed to the negligence of a truck driver. If you have been injured, a Dekalb County truck accident attorney can help you obtain compensation for your injuries and medical costs.