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Mecklenburg County accident shows limits of rear guards

Trucks have been the lifeblood of American commerce for more than a century, and North Carolina has been a key place for the making and use of trucks in all eras. It has also been the place of birth for a lot of safety innovations, as higher speeds and greater cargo volumes led to the need for more restraints on vehicles out of control.

None of these innovations are perfect, however, especially as vehicles become lighter and faster as well. Underride crashes, involving cars or smaller trucks sliding beneath the end of a tractor-trailer. These violent, traumatic events led to the development of rear-guards, often noticeable on interstate highways as the welded bars that hang from the bottom of a trailer bed.

A recent accident outside Charlotte shows this precautionary device is not always adequate to save lives in a sedan. A woman driving a 16-year-old car was killed by her vehicle's collision with the back of a semi that slowed due to morning rush hour congestion.

"Our testing has found that you can meet the [legal] requirements and still have a guard that fails at a crash speed of 35 miles an hour," said a researcher with an organization studying highway safety.

Victims of truck accidents or their survivors may have a case for financial damages, including reimbursement of medical expenses and compensation for extreme losses. if the driver or trucking company has liability for the collision. An attorney can help these people work out the best option for their future at a time of confusion and pain.

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