U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer joined the family of a New York man who died in an underride collision with a tractor-trailer Jan. 2 in pushing for new safety standards for commercial trucks that could save hundreds of lives a year.
Sen. Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, said in a statement that the tractor-trailer crash that killed Edward “Eto” Torres on I-90 western New York demonstrates the “urgent need” for federal requirements mandating tractor-trailers be equipped with side and front underride guards.
Currently, tractor-trailers are required to have rear-underride guards only, but those guards don’t protect motorists in smaller vehicles that collide with the sides of a truck or get hit from behind by one.
Underride guards prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath large commercial trucks, resulting in a collision that’s nearly always deadly. Motorists in underride crashes are usually crushed to death or decapitated.
To confront catastrophic underride accidents, Sen. Schumer expressed his support for the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill that would require underride guards on the sides and front of a truck as well as improve the outdated standards for rear-underride guards, which often break or bend in a collision from poor design or corrosion.
The proposed legislation is sponsored by Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, and Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican.
“Underride guards are a proven technology that will save lives and make our roads safer,” Sen. Schumer said. “We all know the roads can be treacherous during a WNY snowstorm. Drivers trying to get to work or bring their children to school should not have to worry about truck safety standards that are lacking.”
Side underride crashes often occur when a tractor-trailer driver loses control of the vehicle and it jackknifes, creating a barrier along the highway or road. They can also happen when either vehicle runs a traffic light or makes an illegal turn.
“Eto Torres was a good man, a family man, and he could have been better protected if the truck he collided with was equipped with underride guards,” Sen. Schumer said. “The devastation of crashes like these – a result of a gap in truck safety standards – could be reduced.”