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New law may reduce fatalities in Texas 18-wheeler accidents

If the rate of injuries in motor vehicle accidents has fallen, it may be due to the safety features auto manufacturers have added over the years. Air bags, seat belts, anti-lock brakes and shatter-resistant glass are just a few steps in the evolution of car safety. However, none of these features can protect a Texas driver whose car skids under the body of an 18-wheeler.

Because of the size and distance off the ground of most 18-wheeler trailers, an average car crashing into the side of a big rig tends to slide far under the truck, driving the lower edges of the trailer through the windshield of the car and into its occupants. Such accidents are usually fatal due to the devastating injuries suffered, including head trauma, neck injuries and often decapitation. Drivers do not need to be traveling at high speeds to suffer these types of injuries.

For some time, lawmakers have been urging the trucking industry to include under-ride guards on the sides of tractor-trailers. These simple barriers engage the body of the car, stopping its forward motion before reaching the windshield. Studies show these bars, if properly manufactured and attached, can drastically reduce the number and severity of injuries in accidents where smaller vehicles strike a truck from the side or behind.

Each year, hundreds of people in Texas and across the country die in accidents with 18-wheelers that do not have appropriate safety bars on the side or rear of their trailers. New laws may soon mandate these under-ride guards, and it will be the responsibility of the trucker and his or her company to ensure they are adequately maintained for maximum protection. Victims of truck accidents, or their surviving family members, always have the option of seeking the counsel of an attorney to determine if they have grounds for a claim against a trucking company in civil court.

Source: thetrucker.com, "Bipartisan bill introduced to prevent under-ride truck deaths", Dec. 14, 2017

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