New crash test results in on cars hitting backs of big rigs

Weak guards still a problem

SAN DIEGO - New crash test results show when a driver rear ends a tractor trailer a certain way, the impact will severely injure or kill the driver and passengers, despite manufacturer’s attempts at making the backs of big rigs safer.

The new results, released Thursday, are from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Results show if a driver hits his or her car at the outer edge of the of a truck's underride guard, the car can slide under the truck and the impact can be fatal.

Underride guards have been required by law since the 1950s, and they are supposed to prevent a car from sliding under the back of a semi.

The first round of testing on the safety feature by the Institute was done in 2010 and 2011. Those results showed most underride guards failed, and the Institute suggested sturdier guards, like ones used in Canada, would save lives.

Since those first tests, manufacturers have been altering the underride guards found on trucks in the U.S.

This second round of testing put the newer guards to the test.

The newer guards did work better, said researchers, if a car hit the back of a truck at head on. But if a car hit the underride guard on an angle and on the edge, the results could prove fatal in the testing.

John Wallace of Florida is an underride crash victim. He fractured his skull, lost a massive amount of blood, and damaged his eye. He survived, but wonders if safe underride guards could have prevented some of his injuries.

"Realize that you can go underneath it," Wallace said. "Just because there is the guard there, doesn't mean it's gonna stop you."

The insurance industry funds the Institute. To read the Institute’s full report on the crash tests, click here. (Mobile users:

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