In May 2016, a driver in a Tesla Model S was killed when he crashed into a semitrailer and his sedan slid underneath the trailer portion, crushing him. This sort of incident is known as an underride accident, a term that applies anytime a smaller vehicle involved in a crash with a semitrailer or other larger vehicle goes underneath the carriage or trailer of the larger vehicle. Truck accident attorneys here in Los Angeles are witness to these types of accidents on a regular basis. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tells us that underride accidents claimed hundreds of lives in 2015. The IIHS is currently testing new devices, including aftermarket add-ons, that could be used to prevent these types of accidents.
Semitrailers are currently required to have rear underride guards installed, but are not yet required to install and maintain similar guards on their sides. A law requiring side underride guards could potentially save thousands of lives per decade. Thankfully, several companies are taking notice of the market for a device to prevent these deaths. One such company is Airflow Deflector, which is producing a side guard called the AngelWing.
The AngelWing is an aftermarket device retailing at $2,495-3,990 for a complete kit. It has been tested by the IIHS and determined to successfully prevent or reduce side underride accidents at speeds of up to 40 mph. This exceeds the generally accepted rear underride standard recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, although a specific standard for side underride guards has not yet been promulgated.
The development of the AngelWing and other devices like it may have a significant impact on driver safety in the years ahead. These safeguards become even more important as cars come onto the market with automated driving capabilities. The Tesla Model S involved in the May 2016 accident was on autopilot at the time it slid underneath the semitrailer. An AngelWing might not have been there to save that driver, but we hope it will be there to save those in the future.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an underride accident with a truck, contact Steinberg Injury Lawyers today for a free case evaluation. Call us at 1-800-350-8888 to find out more about how we can help.