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Mom works for change after losing 2 daughters in truck crash

Marianne Karth knows the heartache of losing a loved one in a motor vehicle accident. Her two teenage daughters were killed in 2013 when one semitrailer truck plowed into the back of her car near Greensboro, Georgia, and drove it into the rear of another. She herself reportedly suffered serious injuries in the wreck.

What makes this whole horrific situation worse, Karth says, is that it might not have ended as it did had a simple, $100 design upgrade of rear underride guards for trucks been in place. Anyone who plies the highways of the U.S. knows what these devices are, though few might know why they are there or their true purpose.

Underride guards are the girder-like structures at the back end of large trucks that close the gap between the bed of a trailer and the road surface. They are intended to prevent exactly what happened in the 2013 accident that killed Karth's daughters -- cars from riding under the back of a truck. All too often, the result is a fatal truck crash.

This might be a good time to provide some background on the underride guard. It has been a mandated piece of truck design since 1953. Since that time, there have been few modifications to that design, despite crash test research showing that the $100 adjustment mentioned earlier would help prevent injuries and save lives.

Not surprisingly, Karth has become a huge advocate for such change and she is credited with getting federal regulators to commit to consider finally making changes to the regulations in the near future.

What backers want is a design that includes sturdier vertical beams, spaced wider apart. Experts say the stronger guards would allow more people to walk away from accidents. But trucking industry representatives are hesitant to embrace the change. They suggest rules promoting crash-avoidance technology and better driver education would be more effective.

Perhaps cost-benefit analyses by the trucking industry indicate the $100 fix doesn't make it worthwhile. It wouldn't be the first time profits took precedence over precautions.

What all this points to is that victims of truck accidents need the help of experienced legal counsel to make sure their claims for due compensation and recovery don't get kicked to the curb after an accident.

Source: Bloomberg, "Mom Says $100 Truck Tweak Could Have Saved Her Daughters," Jeff Plungis and David Voreacos, Dec. 16, 2014

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