Lawmakers Reintroduce Truck Underride Bill in Congress

While Congressional lawmakers have often tried to propose legislation to prevent truck underride accidents, there has been no significant regulatory update on truck underrides since 1998 – more than 20 years ago now. Because truck underride accidents often cause decapitations and other catastrophic injuries, one group of lawmakers has recently reintroduced a bill to put an end to this phenomenon.

Called the Stop Underrides Act, the bill has bipartisan and bicameral support in Congress, and prominent legislators from both sides of the aisle have publicly backed it. At Martin Jean & Jackson, we hope that this will finally represent an end to the tragedy of truck underride accidents, which have cost thousands of lives over the years.

In this post, we’ll briefly touch on the history of underride regulations, and how you can seek legal help in the event of a truck underride accident.

The History of Federal Underride Standards

When actress Jayne Mansfield was crushed under a truck’s rear end in 1967, public safety advocates across the country demanded greater accountability from the trucking industry, which at the time did not require the use of any rear underride guards. Despite the public outrage and support generated by the star’s death, it would still take until 1998 for the federal government to officially update the standards for rear protection devices. Now, most 18-wheeler trucks are legally required to implement a steel “Mansfield bar” at their rear, to ensure that smaller cars cannot slip underneath.

Although it has been well over 20 years since the rear underride regulations were first changed, there are still no federal regulations governing the side or front underrides of trucks – and as a result, drivers are still dying in these horrifying accidents. According to the advocacy group Stop Underrides, more than 4,000 pedestrians, motorcyclists, and passenger car drivers have died in these accidents since 1998, in spite of the fact that there are many affordable guard technologies that can prevent underride crashes.

About the Stop Underrides Act

Reintroduced on March 5th, 2019 by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Marco Rubio, as well as Representatives Steven Cohen and Mark DeSaulnier, the Stop Underrides Act proposes a simple solution to the ongoing problem of underride accidents. As Gillibrand said in a news release, “Truck underride guards are one of the best and easiest solutions for protecting passengers and preventing them from being killed when a car collides with a truck.” By ensuring that all trucks are required to underride guards in the side and the front, these legislators hope to prevent the estimated 300 deaths per year caused in such accidents.

While the bill does have a high degree of support, the trucking industry is intensely opposed to this commonsense safety measure. No matter what happens in Congress, however, our truck accident attorneys can assist with anyone who has been injured or had a loved one die in an underride accident. We understand how devastating the results of these accidents can be, and because they are fully preventable by trucking carrier companies and operators, we may be able to hold them accountable for your losses.

Need to speak with an attorney? Contact our Oklahoma legal team today at (580) 290-1006 for a free consultation.

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