Tag Archives: underride guards

Highway Safety Part 2

Large Trucks:

About 1 in 10 highway deaths occur in a crash involving a large truck. Large trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger vehicles. They are taller and have greater ground clearance than cars, which means that lower-riding vehicles can slide beneath truck trailers, with deadly consequences.

Rear underride guards are supposed to stop this from happening but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety research shows that guards meeting federal safety standards can fail in relatively low-speed crashes. IIHS has petitioned regulators to require underride guards that are strong enough to remain in place during a crash and to broaden rules to mandate guards for more large trucks and trailers.

Low – and medium-speed vehicles:

Low-speed vehicles are not designed to protect their occupants in crashes. Although LSVs must be equipped with basic features like lights, mirrors and safety belts, they are exempt from most federal motor vehicle safety standards, and they do not have to meet any criteria for vehicle crashworthiness. They are not required to have airbags or other safety features beyond belts, since they are intended for short trips in residential neighbourhoods and other low risk driving situations.

Most states allows LSVs on certain roads, usually those with 35 mph or lower speed limits. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines appropriate performance and safety standards for LSVs but has no say in where LSVs are driven. The same goes for mini trucks, which are legal to operate on some roads in 16 states, even though they were not designed to meet U. S. Safety or Emission Standards.

The federal government does not recognize medium-speed vehicles as a vehicle class. NHTSA in 2008 denied petitions to create a new medium-speed vehicle (MSV) class. The agency said that unlike LSVs, MSVs travel in higher-risk traffic situations and should comply with all of the safety standards set for passenger cars. Despite the agency’s decision not to recognize MSVs, nine states allow them on certain roads with 35-55 mph or lower speed limits.


Riding a motorcycle is inherently riskier than driving a car. Maintaining control is harder on two wheels than on four and when crashes occur, motorcyclists are at a greater risk of serious injury or death because they do not have an enclosed vehicle to protect them. Although motorcyclist deaths have fallen from the 2008 peak of more than 5, 000, the 4, 667 that occurred in 2012 were still more than double the number from 1997.

A crash helmet of an approved design is obligatory for all motorcycle riders and passengers in some 20 states. In most other states, helmets must be worn by riders under 18 or 19. Three states currently have no helmet laws in place (Colorado, Illinois and Iowa), although this is subject to change. In Delaware, all riders must carry helmets, but only those under 19 are required to wear them.

Rhode Island requires only passengers to wear a helmet. Moped riders must wear helmets in around 20 states, half of which require only those of a certain age to them, e. g. 16 to 19.

Many bikers are vehemently opposed to wearing helmets and argue that they have a right to kill themselves, although when they are injured it is often the state that has to pick up the bill. In many states, you are also required to wear goggles if a windscreen (windshield) is not fitted to your bike.
In general, motorcycles registered for use on public highways must meet the equipment requirements in the state in which they are registered, in addition to federal safety standards. Only bikes over 50cc are permitted to use interstate or limited access highways. In many states, motorcyclists are required to use headlights at all times.

Riding between lanes of traffic is prohibited in all states and riding two (or more) abreast is also prohibited in some states.

Pedestrians and Cyclists:

Traffic engineering improvements can reduce pedestrian crashes. Separating vehicles and pedestrians by installing sidewalks, overpasses and underpasses can help reduce conflicts. Other solutions include building median refuge islands and adjusting traffic signals to create an exclusive pedestrian phase or to give pedestrians a head start before vehicles get a green light.

Red Light Running:

Camera enforcement works to curb this dangerous behaviour. Red light cameras are an effective way to discourage red light running. Enforcement is the best way to get people to comply with any law, but it is impossible for police to be at every intersection. Cameras can fill the void. An institute study comparing large cities with red light cameras to those without, found the devices reduced the fatal red light running crash rate by 24 percent and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 17 percent.

A 2005 study by the U. S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) suggests red light cameras reduce dangerous right-angle crashes. This study also found there can be an increase in the number of rear-end collisions, leading to the total number of collisions remaining unchanged.

There are various groups and individuals, such as the National Motorists Association, who oppose red light cameras on the grounds that the use of these devices raises legal issues and violates the privacy of citizens. They also argue that the use of red light cameras does not increase safety.


Roundabouts are a safer alternative to traffic signals and stop signs. The tight circle of a roundabout forces drivers to slow down, and the most severe types of intersection crashes, namely right-angle, left-turn and head-on collisions are unlikely. Roundabouts improve traffic flow and are better for the environment. Research shows that traffic flow improves following conversion of traditional intersections to roundabouts. Less idling, in turn, reduces vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.

Roundabouts generally are safer for pedestrians. Pedestrians walk on sidewalks around the perimeter and cross only one direction of traffic at a time. Crossing distances are relatively short, and traffic speeds are lower than at traditional intersections.

Surveys have shown that the damage incurred in roundabout crashes was significantly reduced. The increased safety levels in roundabouts can be attributed to:

Yield-at-entry operation.
Fewer conflict points. Standard four-way intersections have 32 conflict points versus 8 in a roundabout.
Central and splitter islands reduce the number of conflict points.