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Congress proposes new truck safety guards requirement

Once in a while, politicians set aside party lines to address a situation that deserves a solution. Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican Marco Rubio both agree: their proposed bill can prevent some deadly truck accidents.

The two senators proposed required safety guards for the sides and the front of large trucks. This may prevent cars from sliding underneath them, which almost always causes catastrophic damage. These tragic accidents are called "underrides" and have deprived families of their loved ones.

Currently, commercial truck manufacturers have the option to include guard rails on the sides of trailers, although they rarely do. The extra material may cost a little more, but it has the potential to save lives. The senators believe that manufacturers, who aren't convinced by the human cost of their actions, may respond better to regulatory requirements.

However, the bill meets other opposition; companies claim that these rails present technical issues. According to manufacturers, guard rails could actually make trucks more hazardous due to heavier weight and other constraints. In addition, critics of the bill insist that there isn't enough evidence to prove that adding guards would improve safety at all, let alone outweigh the cost of implementing the requirement.

Luckily, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that its research on guard rails and underride truck accidents is nearly complete. Their findings may soon enter the public's knowledge, giving a better understanding of how this bill might affect road safety.

This bill may or may not die in Congress, but one thing is certain: truck accidents are among the most serious forms of personal injury. Everyone - drivers, legislators and companies - should do everything in their power to prevent tragedy on the road.

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