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Proposal to reduce injuries and fatalities in 18-wheeler crashes

A milk tanker was rolling down an interstate highway when the trucker swerved to avoid deer. His trailer jackknifed across the lanes. Two passenger vehicles crashed under the tanker. Three people died in one vehicle and another person died in the second vehicle.

The tragedy prompted two senators and two members of the House of Representatives to propose a new underride bill that would require protective guards on the sides and fronts of all tractor-trailers that would help prevent fatalities and devastating injuries in 18-wheeler crashes.

Senators Gillibrand (a Democrat from New York) and Rubio (a Florida Republican) believe their bipartisan proposal can save lives and prevent the severe neck and head injuries common in underride crashes.

“With so many unpredictable accidents on the road, underride guards are an easy solution for protecting people and preventing them from dying when a car collides with a truck,” Gillibrand said.

The trucking industry is not so sure. In a truck drivers' newsletter, one owner of a fleet of 600 trucks and trailers said he doubts that speeding cars will be stopped from going under 18-wheelers by the guards, though he cites no studies or evidence for his conclusion. The cost involved in the purchase and installation of the underride guards appears to be his main concern.

While that's a valid concern for every business owner, the families who have lost loved ones in violent collisions between passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles would undoubtedly say that each life saved by the guards is priceless.

We don't know the fate of the proposal, but we do know that too many innocent people have been hurt or lost in tractor-trailer wrecks in the Bellevue area and across Washington. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a truck accident, you can speak with an attorney experienced in personal injury and wrongful death litigation.

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