The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is touting the benefits of side underride guards for semi-trailers.
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 tests mark the first time IIHS has evaluated a side underride guard, with IIHS running two 35-mph tests. One test had an AngelWing side underride protection device from Airflow Deflector Inc., while the second test used a fiberglass side skirt intended to improve aerodynamics, not to prevent underride. As you may expect, the results were dramatically different.
For both tests, a midsize car struck the center of a 53-foot-long dry van trailer and in the AngelWing test, the underride guard bent but didn’t allow the car to go underneath the trailer. As a result, the car’s airbags and seatbelt could properly restrain the test dummy in the driver seat.
The second test, however, where there was no underride guard protection, the car ran into the trailer and kept going with the impact shearing off part of the roof and the sedan became wedged beneath the trailer. If it was a real-world crash, any occupants in the sedan would likely sustain fatal injuries.
“Our tests and research show that side underride guards have the potential to save lives,” says David Zuby, the Institute’s executive vice president and chief research officer. “We think a mandate for side underride guards on large trucks has merit, especially as crash deaths continue to rise on our roads.”