It is estimated that as many as 600 people die each year in the U.S. from underride collisions. One mother says there is a simple solution that could save lives.
Underride crashes are when cars collide into the rear or side of a tractor trailer and slide underneath it. These crashes typically leave a car a mangled wreckage of twisted steel. Oftentimes, there are no survivors.
Marianne Karth lost her daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, in an underride crash on a Georgia highway ten years ago. Ever since, she has been a mom on a mission by lobbying to have side guards installed on tractor trailers.
“Death by underride is a horrible kind of death and nobody should have to die this way,” Karth tells Inside Edition. “This simple fix can stop hundreds of people every year from having their car go under a tractor trailer and then unexpectedly, violently losing their lives.”
It’s called an AngelWing. A crash test demonstration in Raleigh, North Carolina, showed how it works. A sedan flying into the underside of a truck at 35 miles per hour had its front almost entirely sheared off. But when the same type of car smashed into the AngelWing at the same speed, the guard stopped the car from going under.
“There’s damage, but it didn’t go past the windshield. Both the driver, and if there had been a passenger, they would have survived,” Karth says.
There are no federal requirements for side guards like the AngelWing. Safety experts say the trucking industry does not want to pay the additional expense of installing them. The American Trucking Association did not respond to Inside Edition’s request for comment.
Andy Young, an attorney and member of the advocacy group Team Underride, keeps photos of crash victims up in his office as a constant reminder of what’s at stake.
“Regulations are not happening because it adds weight, it adds cost to the trailer. They’re willing to put a side aerodynamic skirt to save fuel, why not put something more robust behind it to save a life,” Young says.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association found at 40 miles per hour, guards like the AngelWing are 97 percent effective in preventing fatalities and 85 percent effective in preventing severe injuries.