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Improving Outcomes for Car Drivers in Rear-End Truck Collisions

Car safety has progressively improved upon many fronts over the past decades, from the advent of seat belts to greater stability and rollover-prevention features. Collectively, the increased safety features have contributed to saving many thousands - if not millions - of motorists' lives across the country.

The focus paid to vehicle safety, though, has fallen woefully short in one area, say industry experts, with the result that a certain type of car accident brings about serious injury and often death to drivers and passengers at a rate that is alarmingly high.

Specifically, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ("IIHS") states that, whereas safety experts have expended considerable time and effort improving the fronts and sides of cars to withstand collisions with other vehicles, they have not done nearly as much to strengthen cars where they are most vulnerable, namely, the upper part - including the roof - of the vehicle compartment.

That omission routinely brings horrific results in a crash where a car collides with a large truck from behind. In such an accident - and owing to the truck's greater height - the car will typically slide beneath the truck, immediately taking the brunt of an accident's force against its windshield and roof pillars. Serious injury or death commonly results.

Crash testers from the IIHS say that a better outcome in such "underride collisions" can be realized through safety improvements to the rear guards fastened to trucks that are designed to stop cars from sliding beneath them. Those guards are simply too weak, say testers, and they often fail when drivers hit them from behind.

The institute has brought that to the government's attention, petitioning it to require safety improvements that will ensure the guards stay in place when struck. Strengthened guards, state the IIHS, will greatly reduce the likelihood for a tragic outcome in a truck underride accident.

Related Resource: www.usatoday.com "Stronger barriers urged to stop beheadings in rear-end crashes" March 2, 2011

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