Underride and Conspicuity

FMSCA should update underride and conspicuity requirements to reflect advances in currently available technology

In an underride accident, a car goes partially or wholly beneath a truck or trailer in a accident, increasing the chance of death or severe injury.  Up to half of all truck-car accidents involve underride, according to the Insurance Institute for highway Safety.  Safety groups have long advocated improved underride guards for large trucks and trailers on the front, side and rear. The trucking industry has resisted using available, improved technology in this area that could dramatically save lives.

Results of a major study European study in 2003 revealed 11% of the fatalities and 30% of serious injuries could be avoided if trucks were equipped with energy absorbing front underrun protection systems (as opposed to the rigid system currently used). Further, the study said some 57% of the fatalities and 67% of the serious injured could be prevented with improved rear underrun protection systems.

More on the study: Vehicle Accident Compatibility

Scania Road Safety Conference: Focus on the Driver (pdf)


Conspicuity refers to how well something can or can't been seen under existing conditions. For big trucks, this usually refers to reflective paint, tape or other agents used to make them more visible to other drivers. Federal regulations govern the use of reflective agents on trucks, but again the industry has not kept pace with improvements in available technology.

More on conspicuity:

Putting the Brakes on Unsafe Trucking Companies