Recent Tragedies Calls for Improved Under-Ride Guards

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/06/2014

On Monday, the parents of Annaleah and Mary Karth brought thousands of petitions from their home in North Carolina to the U.S. Department of Transportation, asking for stricter trucking regulations. The girls were just teenagers when a crash on Georgia Interstate took their lives last May. When their family vehicle was struck, it propelled under a tractor-trailer, killing the two girls.

Yellow truck

The Karth family is calling for improved under-ride guards to prevent vehicles from sliding under trucks, and also wants to require electric monitoring devices to decrease the number of truckers driving while fatigued. They also are aiming to increase the minimum liability insurance required for drivers. "Their lives were abruptly ended, and we want to see that same thing does not happen to others," said their mother, Marianne Karth. "This is not sending someone to the moon -- this is very simple stuff that we can do...The under guard can be fixed for $20, why aren't we doing it?" asked the girls' father, Jerry Karth.

A similar tragedy occurred just this past Sunday in Kansas City when a man lost control of his Pontiac Grand Prix and slammed sideways into the back of a tractor-trailer that was parked on the shoulder. The truck driver had his parking lights on while parked on the shoulder and was waiting for a nearby business to open so he could deliver a load, Kansas City police said. Although the truck driver was not hurt, the car bent the trailer’s underride guard and ended up wedged under the trailer. Police had to lift the trailer to free the Grand Prix and the driver was pronounced dead on the scene. On Monday, the police on identified the deceased driver killed as Randal DeWitt, 35, of Ferrelview, Mo.

While the American Trucking Association supports ideas such as improved under-rides put forth by the Karth family, the ATA isn’t sold on the need for an insurance increase.

“We really have to question whether or not that would really have a benefit, knowing that the vast majority of crashes are covered by existing limits and we don't know what the benefits would be of increasing the premium," said Ron Abbott, Safety Policy VP of the American Trucking Association.

However, Marianne Karth is pushing for any and all legislation that will help prevent similar unnecessary tragedies from occurring in the future.

“We want to make sure that we do everything we can to influence whoever we need to make sure it does happen, because we want to save other people," she said.