It is time to drain the truck safety swamp!

Underride Network Press Release

March 2017

We have lived with industry control and influence of crash test speeds in America while more than a million Americans were killed and injured in crashes with big trucks and trailers. NHTSA has crash tested at 30 and 35 mph since the 1970’s and IIHS has followed suit with minimal improvements. NHTSA has garnered support and donations for it’s White House inhabitants from both parties as the U.S. auto industry has lavished generous donations to their respective political coffers. The insurance industry has manipulated the rights of citizens to sue for wrongful injuries and death and promised big cuts in rates that after elections fail to materialize. Big media have ignored the vast majority of trucking victims in favor of their beloved perfect victims never smeared by partial fault. This has given preference to mostly fatigue victims skewing the safety picture and slowing needed improvements to other safety efforts such as underride guards. The vast majority of fatal fatigue truck crashes involve single vehicle drive off the road crashes into trees and over embankments, a truck driver safe workplace issue! We have truck drivers ignoring safety laws and illegally parking on high speed roadways and causing needless fatalities with almost no enforcement and usually zero penalty as they falsely proclaim they did it to not drive fatigued! Killing without cost and too often bragging about the terrible result. Media claim fault with the car drivers ignoring a safety violation that is far more deadly than drinking and driving and law enforcement brag about their non-enforcement of parking laws. It takes two minutes to find a low-speed roadway if you feel you must illegally park, current guards are only effective to 25 mph and you should never voluntarily park on higher speed roadways.

Political safety never works and does not even benefit industry as it raises costs while increasing poor public perception of industry and even induces fear and loathing. We need to introduce competition into the safety equation. Volvo showed the world decades ago that safety pays especially if your competitor has poor performance in safety tests. While NHTSA and IIHS test big trucks with easy to pass crash tests at low-speed, 35 mph and less and allow most or all to advertise their safety prowess, the motoring public are paying the cost thru death or higher insurance rates. We have stiff underride guards on the backs of trucks that are less effective today than guards that existed at the start of this crash testing fraud back in the early 1970’s! Fifty years of low-speed crash testing and we went backwards! We had 40 mph energy absorbing guards that unfortunately cost 40% more than the cheap stiff guards and in return people died in droves under the stiff guards for 50 years!

We have crash tested guards at 30 to 35 mph for 50 years and today have guards that are only effective to 30 to 35 mph. They meet and do not attempt to exceed the easy to pass tests, innovation stops, America again falls behind! Crash attenuators are extended guards attached to roadside work vehicles which must pass a far more rigorous crash test at FHWA under the MASH standards, they crash test at much higher speeds that cover real world crash speeds which are judged to occur at about 62 mph. Attenuators were not only designed to pass these high-speed crash tests but exceeded them with effective speeds beyond 70 mph. Competition drives technical innovation, this bears repeating, competition drives technical innovation. Passing these tests equals market and financial success. Performing better than the competition equals increased sales and profit and adds value to your brand identity. If they have a crash test they must improve guards to pass they will improve guards. When they know they will pass the easy test they will spend nothing to improve safety, they advertise they successfully passed the test and motivation for better performance does not exist. Stiff guards are killing Americans and are the result of failed efforts to improve technology in America. Australia and Brazil have crash tested energy absorbing guards effective to near 50 mph since the early 1990’s. We are bragging about sometimes effective guards at 35 mph in 2017.

 

Scorpion Truck Mounted Attenuator – Saving Lives (English) Youtube Video (Warning – upsetting crash pictures and video) Protects government employees at higher speeds than guards to protect the general public do. Extending guards 300 mm or about a foot increases the effective crash speed protection to about 60 mph with energy-absorbing guards.

 

NCAP style testing and the competition for best scores by manufacturers have improved crash performance of cars and decreased highway deaths. We can worry less about regulation with a proper high-speed competitive crash testing regimen scientifically based like MASH testing at FHWA. The Underride Network recommends MASH testing of underride guards in America as has been approved in Australia. Dr. George Rechnitzer from Australia a world leading crash test researcher has endorsed high-speed guard crash testing with NCAP style competition. Quote below:

“However, I am still advocating action (NHTSA & IIHS please note) on my earlier suggestion ( I have added 100km/h (62 mph)) that: “Just as we had some decades ago the advanced EXPERIMENTAL SAFETY VEHICLES program by NHTSA in the 1970s, NHTSA and or IIHS could also have a program/competition (USA/worldwide and with some funding provided) for high capacity rear underride barrier designs, with final crash tests to demonstrate high impact capacity to 80km/h (and 100km/h). Two categories, with and without energy absorption”.”

Dr George Rechnitzer

 

According to the Chalmers Car-to-Truck Frontal Crash Compatibility Study increasing the stroke or length of energy-absorbing underride guards (they use an energy-absorbing honeycomb structure HC) by extending them from the truck or trailer body increases the critical impact speed

To 95 km/h (59 mph) with a 300 mm (1 foot) – length HC structure (+27%)
To 102 km/h (63 mph) with a 600 mm (2 feet) – length HC structure (+36%)
To 107 km/h (67 mph) with a 900 mm (3 feet) – length HC structure (+43%)

If we extend energy-absorbing guards only a foot out from truck bodies we can easily achieve high-speed protection. We can end fatalities at highway speeds and save every American money in health and auto insurance costs!

 

Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH)