IIHS test finds semi trailer side impact guard works, wind deflectors don't

How to prevent deaths when cars hit tractor trailers

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has announced the results of two tests created to evaluate the potential benefits of installing underride guards on the sides of truck trailers.

The group released test results Wednesday indicating that strong side guards on semi trailers could prevent numerous deaths that result from these sorts of crashes. The IIHS also tested one of these fiberglass air deflectors under the same conditions as the purpose-built guard.

In the [Airflow] test, the underride guard bent but didn't allow the vehicle to go underneath the trailer, so the car's airbags and safety belt could properly restrain the test dummy in the driver seat.

The second test, however, where there was no underride guard protection, the vehicle ran into the trailer and kept going with the impact shearing off part of the roof and the sedan became wedged beneath the trailer. IIHS says the car's occupants in a collision similar to the second test would likely suffer fatal injuries.

But the trucking industry has concerns about side guards.

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The agency conducted new crash tests to see how a well-built guard can prevent a passenger vehicle from sliding beneath the side of a semi-trailer in the event of an accident.

The side underride guards are not now required by law, but rear guards are.

This proportion increased to nearly 90 percent when restricted to crashes with tractor-trailers. The auto went underneath, and the edge of the trailer collided with the windshield, and eventually the dummy's head.

The passenger vehicle in that test hit the side of the trailer but struck and was repelled as in a normal collision. With no side underride guard, about 28 percent of a 53-foot trailer's length is protected from underride.

"With the rise of injuries and fatalities due to truck crashes, along with the need for greener technologies, Airflow Deflector's AngelWing side underride guards are an integral part of a long-term eco-friendly and cost-effective safety strategy that will benefit the public at large", said Robert Martineau, president of Airflow Deflector.

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