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Recent Fatal Accident Strengths IIHS's Case for Stronger Semi Under-Ride Guards

A recent fatal accident in Houston, Texas, is just another example of why 18-wheelers and other large trucks should have more stringent standards when it comes to installation and strength of under-ride guards.

"Under-riding" occurs when a passenger vehicle collides with a commercial truck, and the front end of the car slides beneath the underside of the semi or tractor-trailer. The pressure of the crash often causes the roof of the car to be stripped away or collapse, leaving the passengers exposed. Most under-ride accidents with commercial trucks lead to catastrophic injury or death.

For one Houston college student, it led to the latter.

Late last Thursday evening, a University of Houston student was killed after crashing into a large commercial truck. The college student had been driving on the 610 North Loop East in Southeast Houston near North McCarty Street.

According to the police report, the student was driving southbound on North McCarty Street at a high rate of speed when he slammed on his brakes. His car skid almost 175 feet before colliding with the 18-wheeler truck. The low-riding car slid under the back of the high-riding semi, crushing the roof of the car. Police believe that the driver was killed instantly.

This tragic death caused by a rear-end collision with a semi truck comes only a month after the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) petitioned the federal government to require stronger under-ride guards on semi trucks. A stronger under-ride guard in this case may not have prevented the accident, but it might have stopped the top of the car from being chopped off. IIHS's petition is currently before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Source: My Fox Houston, "Univ. of Houston Student Killed in Vehicle Accident," 4/15

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