Fleet Management Experts Discuss Lack of Underride Guards in Fatal Accident

Fleet Management Expert WitnessThis case involves an individual who was severely injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident involving a tractor trailer. At the time of the accident, the defendant truck was pulling out of a vehicle pool lot and onto a multi-lane highway during the late evening. The plaintiff driver was traveling southbound on the highway towards the truck as it was pulling out of the lot. The truck had positioned itself so that its lights were facing the plaintiff while the trailer portion of the truck rested across lanes of oncoming traffic, waiting to turn. Due to the bright lights of the truck, as well as the generally dark conditions, the plaintiff driver did not see the body of the trailer that was extended over the highway surface. As a result, the driver collided with the trailer in an “underride” accident at a high rate of speed, with his vehicle going under the trailer. It was alleged that the trailer lacked sufficient guards to prevent an underride accident of this nature from occurring and that this feature was missing on all of the fleet’s vehicles.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your experience and familiarity with underride protection.
  • 2. Do you believe that trucks, such as the truck in this case, should require side underride protection?
  • 3. Do you have knowledge of existing regulations and trends in underride adoption internationally?

Expert Witness Response E-089758

I am very familiar with trends in side underride protection. I hold a patent for a side underride protection system that is currently in the final prototyping stages. I’m part of one of two companies trying to get these guards on the market because these types of accidents happen all too often. I’m well versed in the broader dynamics in this area. There is not a lot of policy in the U.S. on side underride protection. There is little acceptance in the industry because the trailer lobby is powerful. I’ve been in meetings within the last year discussing perceived problems and opportunities to advance trailer safety. Europe is far superior in underride protection, mainly because of the design of their trailers. To my knowledge, Boston and New York have both adopted side underride requirements for municipal vehicles, the first cities in the U.S. to address the area.

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