MIAMI (CBSMiami) – According to the latest numbers from the government, fatal crashes involving large trucks are on the rise but new crash tests show how guards for the sides of trucks can make a big difference.
New crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show what happens when a car going 35 miles per hour crashes into the side of a tractor-trailer. The car goes underneath and the heads of the dummies inside smash directly into the truck.
But in a second test the tractor-trailer is equipped with "underride guards" on the side of the truck and the outcome is much different.
"It prevented the car from going underneath and consequently the airbags and seatbelts were able to protect the driver dummy in those crash tests," said David Zuby with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Federal law requires large trucks to have rear underride guards, but it does not mandate the same protections for the sides of trucks.
More than 15-hundred people were killed in collisions between a passenger vehicle and a tractor-trailers in 2015 - more than 300 of those involved the side of the truck.
"We can't say for sure how many people would be saved but if you prevented the car from going underneath the trailer many more people would be alive," said Zuby.
To cut down on crashes, experts also remind drivers to be attentive when driving around trucks and realize that big vehicles have large blind spots.
The institute hopes its crash tests will lead truck carriers to outfit their fleets with side guards.
Click here for more information from the institute.
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