Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressman Cohen Joins Senators Gillibrand and Rubio and Congressman DeSaulnier Introducing Truck Underride Bills

December 12, 2017
Press Release
Say legislation will save lives

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier of California and families of truck underride accident victims Tuesday in introducing bipartisan legislation to prevent such unnecessary tragedies.

“This is the type of legislation that does not have deep-pocket support; it doesn’t have interest groups with money to push it and to support it. But it has the interests of the people and the safety of the people. It’s the right kind of legislation that should be advocated in Congress more often,” Cohen said at a news conference.

I want to recognize the families who have suffered and lost loved ones, particularly my constituent, Mrs. Higginbotham -- Laurie Higginbotham – who is here. Each of these people have lost chiledren or parents they wouldn’t have if this legislation had been in effect…It is time we passed such an act to save lives.”

Laurie and Randy Higginbotham of Memphis lost their son Michael in 2014 when he ran into the side of a tractor trailer making an illegal U-turn, Mrs. Higginbotham told reporters Tuesday.

Gillibrand said that while there have been improvements to traffic safety, there is a “massive design flaw” rendering virtually all car-safety features useless when colliding with a truck trailer.

“With so many unpredictable accidents on the road, underride guards are an easy solution for protecting people and preventing them from dying when a car collides with a truck,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bipartisan legislation would save lives, and we should pass it as quickly as possible to keep Americans safe while they’re driving, whether they’re heading to see family and friends for the holidays or driving to work on their morning commute. I urge all of my colleagues to join me and Senator Rubio on this bipartisan bill.”

“Florida is one of the states with the highest number of reported fatalities due to underride collisions. With hundreds of Americans losing their lives due to these crashes every year, the Stop Underrides Act seeks to prevent these kind of deaths, make our roads safer, and spare more families the grief of losing a loved one by implementing underride guards on trucks across the nation,” said Senator Rubio. “I ask my colleagues in Congress to join me in advancing efforts to save hundreds of lives across the country.”

Studies and pilot programs show that a simple barrier attached to the lower area of a truck, called an “underride guard,” would help prevent a car from sliding underneath a truck in an accident. Under current federal law, underride guards are not required to be on the sides or front of trucks. Underride guards are already required for the back of a truck, but the standards are outdated.

The bills introduced in the House and Senate Tuesday would require underride guards on the sides and front of a truck and update the outdated standards for underride guards on the back of trucks. It would also ensure that the annual inspection for all large trucks includes underride guards as part of the inspection and would require the Department of Transportation to review underride standards every five years to evaluate the need for changes in response to advancements in technology.