A serious car accident in Kansas City involving a tractor trailer shows why we need to continue to enforce safety regulations on the roadways, including requiring that trucks have Mansfield Bars.
Car Rear-Ends Tractor Trailer
The crash happened on the evening of April 5, 2021.
The truck accident is still under investigation, so little is known about exactly what happened. However, it is clear that a car rear-ended a tractor trailer on Interstate 49 under the 155th Street overpass.
The accident shut down the southbound lanes of the highway.
Reports indicate that someone in the crash, likely in the car that rear-ended the truck, suffered life-threatening injuries.
The Potential Dangers of Rear-End Collisions With Trucks
Rear-end collisions with tractor trailers are extremely dangerous because most trailers are 48 inches off the ground to match the standard height of loading docks.
The hoods of many passenger vehicles, especially smaller sedans, are less than 20 inches off the ground. This means that these vehicles can fit underneath the trailer, if they hit it. The initial force of that rear-end collision would happen on the car’s windshield.
The force of anything but a low speed collision would come with a significant risk of a severe head injury to the driver and any adult passengers in the car. Moderate or high speed collisions were almost guaranteed to be fatal. Victims could even be decapitated.
Underride Guards, or Mansfield Bars, Protect Highway Drivers
Foreseeing the dangers, federal regulations required that trucks and trailers be built with underride guards – the metal bars hanging beneath the back-end of trailers – since 1953.
However, the danger of these rear-end collisions was not fully appreciated until 1967. That was when actress and model Jayne Mansfield and two others in her car were killed instantly when they crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer. Their car had slid underneath the trailer, shearing off the top of the car and causing fatal head injuries.
The crash and the actress’ death caused a public outcry that put underride guards in the spotlight and gave them the moniker Mansfield Bars.
While regulations were tightened and began to get enforced, rear-end collisions with tractor trailers have continued to be a problem. Between 2008 and 2017, there were an average of 219 fatalities in crashes involving Mansfield Bars, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.
Even now, getting trucking companies to maintain the Mansfield Bars on their trucks is a struggle. While trucking companies are supposed to inspect them, they rarely do. Regulations, meanwhile, are vague as to whether underride guard violations are citable during truck inspections.
A proposed rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would include the Mansfield Bars on any truck inspection. This would lead to citations for missing, loose, or damaged underride guard systems. That rule, however, has not become final.
Until it does, drivers in Missouri may not be able to rely on these important truck safety features.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve St. Joseph
The personal injury and car accident attorneys at the Smith Law Office strive to help car and truck accident victims recover compensation in St. Joseph, Kansas City, and Springfield, Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.