NY senator wants underride guards after I-81 crash

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Updated Jul 24, 2017
A milk tanker jackknifed along Interstate 81 north near Sandy Creek on July 5. (NY State Police photo)A milk tanker jackknifed along Interstate 81 north near Sandy Creek on July 5. (NY State Police photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) is calling for tractor-trailers to be equipped with energy-absorbing side underride guards following a high-profile July 5 crash on northbound I-81 in Sandy Creek, New York which killed four people.

In a statement Friday, July 21, Schumer said the accident “shows the urgent need to improve truck safety in order to better protect drivers and passengers involved in truck underride crashes.” He wants the federal government to:

  • update existing truck rear underride guard standards
  • require trucks be equipped with side underride guards
  • conduct new research into into front underride guard standards.

In the July 5 accident, the driver of a bulk milk tanker swerved to miss deer on the highway and jackknifed across both lanes of I-81. Two vehicles crashed into the side of the trailer, killing three people in one car and one in the other.

Schumer said the occupants of both cars could have been better protected if the truck had been equipped with side underride guards.

New York’s senior senator in a news release detailed the three changes he wants:

  1. “Update the truck rear underride guard standard. The current standards for rear underride guards are outdated dated and do not work as effectively with modern vehicles now equipped with crumple zones and airbag deployment sensors.
  2. “Require trucks be equipped with side underride guards. Side underride guards are currently not required on trucks, but research has demonstrated considerable driver and passenger safety improvements with their addition
  3. “Study truck front underride guards. Research should be conducted to establish the most effective approach front underride guard standards.”

This is not Schumer’s first foray into truck safety issues. He sought federal funding for local street improvements and was critical of so called “chameleon carriers” following a June 21, 2014 crash when a car carrier drove through the front of a downtown Ithaca restaurant killing a pregnant 27-year-old bartender. Schumer also weighed in on the speed limiter debate.