Nearly 40 years after Jayne Mansfield got her top taken off crashing into the back of a tractor trailer, the feds have required semis to have underride guards at the rear. What’s not required are underride guards on the sides. This video might convince you that this should change.
It’s the difference in height that’s making this crash so brutal. Cars are designed to hit bumper-to-bumper. That’s why rear underride guards basically give semi trucks a second, lower, car-height bumper for people to crash into.
On the side, though, the bottom of a tractor trailer lines up almost perfectly with your face.
It does not look good.
A hit like this is what did in Joshua Brown in the first fatal semi-autonomous Tesla crash last year.
What’s worrying is that even today’s rear underride guards are not as strong as they need to be as recorded by an IIHS crash test a few years ago. On an objective count of how many people die per year crashing into semis (it’s in the hundreds, versus thousands for drunk driving) is not the greatest threat to safety on America’s roads. But watching this video does make it one of the scariest.