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Safety advocates push for truck side guard requirement

North Carolina residents should know that 4,102 Americans died in large truck crashes in 2017. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that 82% of these victims were occupants of other vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians and that most died by being crushed in the exposed area between the truck's front and rear wheels.

In fact, the majority of truck crashes are side-impact crashes. From 2005 to 2009, a total of 556 pedestrians and bicyclists in the U.S. died in side-impact crashes.

For this reason, many are pushing for a side guard requirement on all U.S. trucks with high ground clearance. Some states and cities are adopting side guards, but it has not spread to the rest of the nation. However, safety advocates say the benefits are clear. One study shows that once side guards became mandatory in the U.K., the number of cyclists and pedestrians who died in side-impact crashes went down 61% and 20%, respectively.

The National Transportation Safety Board has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create performance standards for side underride protection systems. The NTSB is also calling for trucks to incorporate the kind of technology that would meet such standards. Some groups oppose a side guard requirement, citing the cost to trucking companies.

Semi-truck accidents can have catastrophic effects. If the trucker is at fault for an accident, the victim may want to have a lawyer evaluate the case. Legal counsel could speak on the victim's behalf at the negotiation table or, if a settlement isn't reached, in the courtroom.

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