IIHS Study Finds Deadly Tractor-Trailer Defects

Chevrolet Malibu vs. Hyundai Translead
Even when your vehicle earns top marks in government or insurance crash tests, it’s important to know that your car remains vulnerable to unusual types of accidents.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety chillingly has illustrated this fact through a series of tests in which passenger vehicles rear-end the backs of some of America’s most popular tractor-trailers.

The study concludes that it’s not the passenger cars but the tractor-trailers that fail to keep passengers safe. Oftentimes, the guard rails on the back end of trucks failed basic requirements even though the rails were certified to U.S. and Canadian safety standards.

Chevrolet Malibu Results
In many instances, the 2010 Chevrolet Malibus would underride the trucks when the guard rail failed, causing encroachment into the interior compartment of the passenger vehicles. Underride occurs when a vehicle’s front end (or more) slides underneath another vehicle, typically in rear-end collisions. When underride occurs, decapitation is a serious threat to passengers and the driver, as the above photo illustrates.

The 35-mph rear-end collision test of a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu — which is an IIHS Top Safety Pick — and a trailer designed by Hyundai Translead led to the trailer’s underride guard to bend forward and break, causing the worst performance of any trailer tested in a head-on rear-end collision. Hyundai Translead claims to be a leading provider of various trailers and domestic container carriers in the United States. The IIHS said it chose to test Hyundai, Vanguard and Wabash trailers because they are the most common trailers on the road.

Offset tests, in which the car and the truck overlap by 50% or 30% at 35 mph, showed that even the strongest guards are effective only when a car engages from dead-on center. (The below photo is of an offset test.)

Chevrolet Malibu vs. Vanguard
IIHS would like to see safety standards improved and regulatory gaps mended to improve safety. Current regulations allow many trucks to forgo guards altogether, according to IIHS. Right now, safety standards don’t require that the underride guard rail, trailer, bolts and welding application be tested under one system. IIHS would like to see a more cohesive test.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 423 people in passenger vehicles die each year when their vehicles strike the backs of large trucks; nearly 5,000 are injured.


That under-ride guard is set at 22" from the ground to the bottom of the bumper by the Federal Government. But there are a lot of pickup trucks you can drive off the lot with bumpers higher than that...How about an under-ride guard for them...http://www.sparebumper.com

Anonymous Coward

Make the manufacturers do a recall.


Just more talk of big government telling us what to do and ruining our lives. The free market will figure this out on its own.

/end sarcasm


How about improving the rear lighting of trucks?
It seems as if they go out of their way to make the light assembly as cheaply as possible.


First of all this not even realistic if you can not see a truck stop when your doing 35 what are you doing for the 60 seconds before you hit it. Second why not try to save the 17000 people killed by drunk drivers. This is just another way of not taking responsablity for our own actions. Putting the blame on faulty equipment when it gets run into! come on!!!!

Derrick G

How about if the truck is just stopped in the middle lane of a busy Interstate, such as happened today in Anderson, SC. Supposedly the Tacoma that went under the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed, but this is a 65 MPH zone and supposedly traffic was heavy.




Shades of Jayne Mansfield and that Electra 225 she was a passenger in.The irony was the trailer her car hit said "Please drive safely" on a sticker right above the impact zone.

The Horseman

Hmm, If I was not texting while driving on a busy roadway, I would have been paying attention enough to see that 18 -wheeler slowing and stopping, and doing the same myself. If only I was not an idiot, I would have not killed myself, because that 18 -wheeler had to make a sudden stop, due some other idiot doing the same thing! IIHS - Put an end to the ability to use texting and internet devices while the vehicle is in motion. That my friends, is the leading cause of the increase of highway accidents. NOT the Professional Drivers of the 18-wheelers!

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