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FMCSA: Rear impact guards should be inspected annually

Semi-truck rear impact guard
You might think an important piece of safety equipment that is required on tractor-trailers would be subject to inspection. Well, you would be wrong. Fortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is working to change the unusual oversight. Here's what you need to know.

Rear impact guards are important, but not inspected

Did you ever wonder why a tractor-trailer that you see on a San Antonio highway has a steel bar hanging from the back? It’s commonly called a rear impact guard. Because the mammoth trucks do not have bumpers, the guard is designed to protect other motorists by preventing their vehicles from sliding underneath the trailer during a rear-end collision.

Rear impact guards have been a requirement for most commercial vehicles since the 1950s. Oddly enough, this important safety feature is not subject to a vehicle’s mandatory annual inspection. In other words, a big rig can pass inspection even if the rear impact guard is missing or damaged, posing a serious danger to other motorists and their passengers in the event of a truck accident.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently proposed adding the guard to annual inspections. In addition, some industry officials argue the guard should be part of an operator’s regular maintenance routine. Such a procedure, they say, would serve to identify problems with the guard before they become serious.

Big rigs and little cars are a bad match

In any accident with a fully loaded, 80,000-pound tractor-trailer, you and your much smaller passenger vehicle are in major trouble. Due to their size and weight, 18-wheelers can cause extensive damage, catastrophic injuries, and fatalities. The risk to you and your passengers multiplies if the big rig lacks a working rear impact guard and your vehicle slides underneath the trailer.

Victims of such collisions often suffer:

  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Broken bones
  • Amputation / Loss of limbs
  • Internal organ damage
  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • Permanent scarring and disfigurement

These severe injuries may require extensive care, rehabilitation, and physical therapy that can last weeks, months, or longer. A permanent disability may mean you cannot return to work or support your loved ones. With your medical expenses piling up, it can be hard to focus on your recovery when you're worried about how to pay your bills.

Protect your future with an experienced truck accident lawyer

If you were involved in a trucking accident in the San Antonio area, you might be facing what seems like insurmountable challenges. Your injuries may sideline you from regular everyday activities and limit your capability to work.

In the meantime, it’s unlikely that the trucker, the trucking company, or anyone else involved in your crash is going to accept any responsibility for the accident. It’s more likely that they will fault you for the collision and dare you to take on their team of lawyers. Luckily, you can level the playing field by hiring a truck accident lawyer to protect your rights and aggressively advocate for your best interests.

If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident in the San Antonio area, contact the attorneys at The Herrera Law Firm. We've been representing accident victims just like you since 1983 and understand what it takes to win complex cases, including those involving poor fleet maintenance and defective equipment. Let us help you pursue justice and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case consultation.

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