• NTSB recommending safety device on big rigs after Channel 2 investigation

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - Less than six months after a Channel 2 Action News consumer investigation revealed how a key safety device on big-rig trucks often fails, federal crash investigators want a change.
     

    The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that standards from rear under-ride guards be toughened and that requirements for side under-ride protection be implemented.
     
    "I've got Mark's six children driving all the time. I'd love to see this sort of thing protect them," said Edith Fowler, whose son, Mark Fowler, was killed in an under-ride crash with a trailer in 2011.
     
    Under-ride occurs when a vehicle becomes pinned beneath a semi-trailer during a high-speed impact. 
     
    The bottom of the trailer intrudes into the passenger compartment at head height, making airbags and crash-engineered crumple zones worthless.
     
    The NTSB cited research showing that between 2006 and 2008, 530 people died each year in crashes involving the sides of trucks.
     
    The recommendations extended to rear under-ride guards, too. 
     
    "The standard on the bumpers and our underside systems on these commercial vehicles has not changed since 1998," said Sgt. William Satterfield, of the Georgia Motor Carrier Compliance division.
     
    The safety board recommends stronger guards, like the ones Channel 2 Action News showed from Canadian trailer company Manac.
     
    The guards held up in three different types of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. No other guard performed as well.
     
    "Anytime we can prevent somebody from being seriously injured in any accident, it's worth any kind of prevention that we can put forward," said trucking executive Fenn Church, whose company uses the Manac trailer.

    In a statement from the NHTSA, they said, "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is deeply committed to improving large truck safety and will review the latest recommendations from the NTSB.  The agency has been studying several ways to improve the safety of large trucks based on our field analysis, third party tests, international standards and other data.  We’ll use this information to determine the most effective approach."


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