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I-270 truck crash shows need for tougher underride-guard rules

A fatal truck accident claimed the life of a young Dublin woman on Tuesday night. Maria Elizabeth Tiberi, 21, was driving her Toyota Corolla south on Interstate 270 when she failed to stop at backed-up traffic and hit the rear of a tractor trailer.

Tiberi was rushed to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center but could not survive her devastating injuries. She was the daughter of Columbus sports news anchor Dom Tiberi.

The heart-wrenching accident reignites a longstanding debate on underride guard standards in the U.S. Underride guards are devices installed on the back of semis to prevent passenger vehicles from travelling beneath the trailer after a rear-end collision has occurred.

Truck underride accidents unnecessarily kill hundreds every year in the U.S., but the industry has had too lax of underride guard standards. Canada has historically been one or two steps ahead of the U.S. in underride prevention standards and its commitment to improving survival rates when truck accidents occur.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently conducted tests to determine the success of underride guards but the results were discouraging: Most trailers fail to prevent underride when a passenger vehicle impacts a small portion of the truck's rear. This type of impact is presumably common, since many drivers swerve away from the rear of a truck moments before impact.

At this time, we don't know whether appropriate underride guards were installed on the vehicle Tiberi collided with, or whether an underride-guard failure is partially to blame for her death.

We do know that the American trucking industry and federal authorities should be doing more to prevent fatal underride accidents.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, "Woman, 21, Dies After I-270 Crash In Hilliard," Sep. 18, 2013

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