That "Distancia Amigo!" message on trucks? You might want to start taking that seriously. A recent crash-test analysis conducted by the United States' Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that a truck's underride guard is prone to failure even in low-speed crashes.
"Hitting the back of a large truck is a game changer," said IIHS president Adrian Lund. "You might be riding in a vehicle that earns top marks in frontal crash tests, but if the truck's underride guard fails--or isn't there at all--your chances of walking away from even a relatively low-speed crash aren't good."
The institute analyzed the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, a federal database of roughly 1,000 real-world crashes from 2001-2003 to identify crash patterns. After looking through the data, the Institute found that of the 115 crashes where a passenger vehicle struck the back of a truck, nearly 80 percent involved underride with most vehicles suffering severe or catastrophic damage.
The institute also discovered that even trucks whose underride guards meet even the stringiest standards required by Canada are only good for dead-center collisions as a 30-percent overlap collision exhibited severe underride damage. Overlap collisions happen when a car hits the truck with only part of its front instead of head-on.
"Under current certification standards, the trailer, underride guard, bolts and welding don't have to be tested as a whole system," Lund added. "That's a big part of the problem. Some manufacturers do test guards on the trailer. We think all guards should be evaluated this way. At the least, all rear guards should be as strong as the best one we tested."
At least they have underride guards in the United States and Canada. As for the local trucks, well, we might be looking at a different story.