More than 200 motorists die every year in what are called side underride accidents. This is where a vehicle collides into the side of a big rig and slides underneath. Drivers in South Carolina should know, however, that Congress members proposed a bill that would mandate side guards for trucks.

Though the National Transportation Safety Board has long recommended side guards for trucks, they are not a requirement. The NTSB has stated that there is strong evidence showing how side guards can reduce injuries and fatalities. Part of its investigation focused on the story of two mothers in Georgia and Indiana who lost their children in side underride crashes; the incidents took place in 2003 and 2005, respectively.

Thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear guards became a requirement back in 1998. However, the organization has not complied with a 2014 NTSB recommendation (which was non-binding) that it require side protection systems on all new trailers. On the other hand, the NHTSA has just completed a nearly two-year-long research project on such systems.

The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association speaks for many trucking companies in opposing the proposed bill. The group cites the cost, the danger of the added weight and technical challenges as reasons for opposition.

Side underride crashes, like most types of truck accidents, can lead to catastrophic injuries and death. If a trucker was at fault in causing such an accident, the victim may be eligible for a settlement. A lawyer can evaluate an accident case, hire investigators to find proof of the trucker’s negligence and negotiate for the settlement.