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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-10-013
Synopsis: On June 26, 2009, a multivehicle accident occurred on Interstate 44 (I-44) near Miami, Oklahoma, shortly after a minor accident in the same vicinity occurred. The minor accident took place about 1:13 p.m., when a 2001 Ford Focus traveling eastbound at milepost 321.7 on I-44 drifted into a truck-tractor semitrailer parked on the right shoulder. After the Focus sideswiped the semitrailer, the car’s driver overcorrected to the left, lost control, and struck the concrete center median barrier. The Focus came to rest in the roadway, blocking the left eastbound lane. As the trailing traffic began to slow and stop, it formed a queue. Several motorists exited their vehicles and began to push the disabled Focus to the right shoulder. The queue of stopped vehicles and approaching but slowing vehicles extended back from the accident site approximately 1,500 feet to about milepost 321.5. Meanwhile, about 1:19 p.m., a 76-year-old truck driver operating a 2008 Volvo truck-tractor in combination with an empty 2009 Great Dane refrigerated semitrailer was traveling eastbound in the outside (right) lane of I-44 at approximately 69 mph. (The posted speed limit was 75 mph.) The truck driver did not react to the queue of slowing and stopped vehicles and collided with the rear of a 2003 Land Rover sport utility vehicle (SUV). As both vehicles moved forward, the Land Rover struck a 2003 Hyundai Sonata and then departed the right lane and shoulder, coming to rest off the roadway. The Volvo continued forward, struck and overrode the Hyundai Sonata, struck and overrode a 2004 Kia Spectra, and then struck the rear of a 2000 Ford Windstar minivan. The Volvo overrode a portion of the Windstar while pushing it into the rear of a livestock trailer being towed by a 2004 Ford F350 pickup truck. The Ford pickup truck was pushed forward and struck a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV. The Volvo combination unit came to rest approximately 270 feet past the point where it initially struck the Land Rover. As a result of the Volvo combination unit’s striking the slowed and stopped vehicle queue on I-44, 10 passenger vehicle occupants died, 5 received minor-to-serious injuries, and the driver of the Volvo combination unit was seriously injured.1 The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of this accident was the Volvo truck driver’s fatigue, caused by the combined effects of acute sleep loss, circadian disruption associated with his shift work schedule, and mild sleep apnea, which resulted in the driver’s failure to react to slowing and stopped traffic ahead by applying the brakes or performing any evasive maneuver to avoid colliding with the traffic queue. Contributing to the severity of the accident were the Volvo truck-tractor combination unit’s high impact speed and its structural incompatibility with the passenger vehicles.
Recommendation: TO THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: After establishing performance standards for front underride protection systems for trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings over 10,000 pounds, require that all such newly manufactured trucks be equipped with front underride protection systems meeting the performance standards.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Unacceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Miami, OK, United States
Is Reiterated: Yes
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY09MH015
Accident Reports: Truck-Tractor Semitrailer Rear-End Collision Into Passenger Vehicles on Interstate 44
Report #: HAR-10-02
Accident Date: 6/26/2009
Issue Date: 10/21/2010
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: NHTSA (Open - Unacceptable Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 11/13/2017
Response: We are disappointed that we have not received an update from you regarding any substantive actions you plan to take to address these underride protection recommendations. Failure to address this important safety issue places drivers on our nation’s roadways at risk. Please send us an update outlining your planned actions and a timeline for addressing this recommendation. Pending such information, Safety Recommendations H-10-12 and -13 remain classified OPEN--UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
Date: 3/30/2015
Response: We are disappointed by the lack of progress you have made toward requiring front underride protection systems, and we are concerned that you consider this issue a secondary priority. European countries already require these systems, and we believe that sufficient data exists to support NHTSA’s moving forward with rulemaking. Implementing federal performance standards and a requirement for this equipment would ensure a consistent approach toward its further development and application. Accordingly, pending completion of the recommended actions, Safety Recommendations H-10-12 and -13 are classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

Date: 12/3/2014
Response: -From David J. Friedman, Deputy Administrator: Similar to our response to H-13-13 and H-13-14 above, NHTSA is still analyzing whether the development of performance standards is needed. The UMTRI clinical case review noted light vehicle head-on impacts occurred in 43 of the 411 LTCCS cases, typically with both vehicles in motion. However, a detailed analysis of these cases was not provided. The agency decided that further review was warranted and is in the process of conducting this examination. Upon completion, we will make a determination about the need to regulate front underride guards. We note that, as is the case with side underride guard protection, the agency's efforts in this area are a secondary priority to upgrading Federal motor vehicle safety standards for rear impact guards. See 79 FR 39362.

From: NTSB
Date: 7/3/2013
Response: From the Safety Study: Crashes Involving Single-Unit Trucks that Resulted in Injuries and Death, NTSB/SS-13/01, PB13-106637, adopted June 17, 2013, published July 3, 2013: Truck frontal impacts pose a major hazard to passenger vehicle occupants and front underride contributes to the risk. The majority of fatal large truck crashes involve the fronts of large trucks (Jarossi et al. 2011). Data from the participating states indicated that collisions involving the fronts of trucks were the most common type of collision and occurred more frequently for single-unit trucks than for tractor-trailers (see figure 27). Passenger compartment intrusion in underride collisions results in deaths and serious injuries to passenger vehicle occupants and is common in truck frontal impacts. Blower and Woodrooffe (2013) indicated that front underride occurred in 72 percent and passenger compartment intrusion occurred in 64.5 percent of large truck front impacts resulting in injury or death. Their research also showed a strong relationship between the height of front truck bumpers and the occurrence of front underride, which suggests that a front underride protection system could prevent both front underride and passenger compartment intrusion. This study found that about 18 percent of single-unit truck frontal impacts with passenger vehicles resulting in injury or death involved underride during 2001–2003. This resulted in a national estimate of 1,215 for front underrides involving single-unit trucks (see table 15). Front underride was most common in head-on collisions (37 percent). Since 2003, European Union countries have required front underride protection systems on all newly manufactured heavy-goods vehicles, which indicates that such a standard is feasible. The NTSB concludes that collisions between passenger vehicles and the front of single-unit trucks or tractor-trailers are common types of crashes that result in fatalities, and front underride contributes to crash severity. The NTSB therefore reiterates its prior recommendations that (1) NHTSA develop performance standards for front underride protection systems for trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings over 10,000 pounds (Safety Recommendation H-10-12), and (2) that once the performance standards in Safety Recommendation H-10-12 have been developed, require all newly manufactured trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings over 10,000 pounds to be equipped with front underride protection systems meeting the performance standards (Safety Recommendation H-10-13).

From: NTSB
Date: 6/19/2012
Response: Although these recommendations focus on front underride protection systems for trucks, the NTSB notes that NHTSA is evaluating both front and side underride crashes involving heavy vehicles to better understand the effect of impact speeds and trajectories on crash severity and injury. Once its analysis is complete, NHTSA will assess the data and decide on the agency’s next steps; this decision is expected sometime in 2012. We look forward to learning the results of NHTSA’s research and we encourage NHTSA to move forward with the development of performance standards and an installation requirement for underride protection for, at a minimum, all trucks above 10,000 pounds GVWR. In the interim, Safety Recommendations H-10-12 and -13 are classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

Date: 7/5/2011
Response: CC# 201100254: From David L. Strickland, Administrator: To better characterize the national crash picture, NHTSA is finalizing an approach that would evaluate both front and side underride crashes involving heavy vehicles, We believe the approach should include a focus on kinematic, environmental, vehicle, and other factors associated with front and side underride crashes and should evaluate the effect of impact speeds and trajectories in such crashes on crash severity and injury. Given the real world data analysis that must be undertaken, the necessary analysis to develop perf0l111anCC requirements, and our current resources and priorities, the agency will determine the next course of action in 2012.