Crashes with big rig trucks are one of the worst crashes a driver can be in, especially if they happen to be in a low car that can underride the semi. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released a video showing that while the measures that have been taken to prevent compact cars from sliding under the truck in a rear-end crash are somewhat effective, more needs to be done to help keep drivers safe.
According to the IIHS, the majority of semis have underride guards installed, which are steel bars hanging below the rear of the vehicle's trailer to stop a car from going underneath in the event of a rear-end crash. The minimum requirements for these guards, however, have been demonstrated as inadequate for keeping drivers safe, and because of this the IIHS petitioned the NHTSA back in 2011 to adopt harsher requirements.
Unfortunately, the NHTSA never responded to the request, but trailer manufacturers took the initiative anyway and began putting in guards above the minimum requirements. While this was an excellent measure on their part, a new rear-crash test performed by the IIHS, which you can see in the video above, has demonstrated that there are still safety concerns that need to be addressed - specifically, the guard's inability to help keep drivers safe when there's an overlap in the collision, meaning only part of the car hits the back of the semi's trailer.
Says the IIHS, the 30-percent overlap is still within the range for the driver's (or passenger's, depending on the side) head to hit the back of the trailer if the vehicle underrides the semi, something that is sure to be fatal. As a result, the Institute has stated that while the stronger guards being used with trailers is a "good first step," much more can be done to keep drivers safe and help reduce the number of deaths in these sort of collisions.