Lawmakers look to truck safety during holiday travel season

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- “I had to be out by the jaws of life," Marianne Karth said.

Karth described the day she survived a terrible tractor-trailer accident. On her way back to North Carolina from a wedding in Texas, an 18-wheeler sideswiped her car sending the vehicle spinning out of control. Her daughters Annaleah and Mary, who were in the backseat, slid right under the back of the truck and were killed. The trucks under-ride guard failed. Turns out, this mom’s story, isn’t unique.

“Each year hundreds of families lose a loved one because of this well known vehicle design flaw," one mom said at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

An ‘underride crash’ is when a car slides under the body of a large truck. Most car safety features aren’t able to protect passengers because the truck crashes right through the windows directly into the passengers.

“With so many unpredictable accidents on the road under-ride guards are an easy solution for protecting people and preventing them from dying when a car collides with a truck. This bipartisan legislation would save lives," New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said.

She's introducing a bill that aims to prevent deadly under-ride crashes. She said her bill would require every large truck to have a barrier, or under-ride guard,installed to stop cars from sliding underneath in a crash. Under federal law, tractor-trailers are required to have them on their rears, her bill would require them on their sides as well.

Organizations like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it’s important to note that while a there are a certain number of fatal truck-related crashes, the greater majority of them are not the fault of the truck driver.

We asked about their stance on Gillibrand’s proposed legislation and a representative for the organization told us they’re still reviewing the bill.

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