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Schumer: I-90 Is A Main Artery in WNY And Any Motorist Can Tell You That Big Rigs Can Veer Unexpectedly, Putting Everyday Drivers At Risk For Accidents—Or Worse

Senator Says Trucks Must Be Equipped With “Underride Guards” To Protect Drivers And Passengers On Roads And Highways; Urges Passage Of Bipartisan Legislation 

Schumer To Feds: Lack Of Safety "Underride Guards" On Trucks Is A Flashing Red Light 

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today joined the family of Edward “Eto” Torres, who tragically died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on January 2nd, to call on the federal government to update and implement new truck safety standards by requiring trucks be equipped with energy-absorbing underride guards. Schumer said that the recent fatal accident on I-90 East shows the urgent need to improve truck safety in order to better protect drivers and passengers involved in truck underride crashes. When these accidents occur, the vehicle can strike and travel underneath a truck bypassing the vehicle's built-in safety mechanisms. To address these catastrophic accidents, Schumer expressed support for the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, the bipartisan legislation that requires underride guards on the sides and front of a truck and updates -the outdated standards for underride guards on the back of trucks. Schumer said the safety benefits of underride guards are proven and well-known and that these new safety requirements can help protect all New Yorkers on the road.

“Underride guards are a proven technology that will save lives and make our roads safer,” said Senator Schumer.  “We all know the roads can be treacherous during a WNY snowstorm. Drivers trying to get to work or bring their children to school should not have to worry about truck safety standards that are lacking. Eto Torres was a good man, a family man, and he could have been better protected if the truck he collided with was equipped with underride guards.  The devastation of crashes like these – a result of a gap in truck safety standards – could be reduced. The reality is underride guards on trucks can help save lives, which is why I am a proud supporter of the bipartisan legislation that develops and enforces new and improved safety standards for trucks. We need to make sure we’re doing everything possible to make our roads as safe as possible, and to ensure that no other family, like Eto’s, has to suffer the pain of such a tragic loss.”

Underride crashes involving passenger motor vehicles striking and traveling underneath a truck or trailer are a significant public safety threat, as evidenced by the recent crash on I-90 East on January 2nd. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that hundreds of preventable fatalities and life-threatening injuries have occurred as a result of underride crashes, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended the installation of rear, side and front underride guards to improve safety.

Schumer supports the bipartisan Stop Underrides Act of 2017, which is sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Marco Rubio, specifically calls for three critical safety improvements:

  1. Update the truck rear underride guard standard. The current standards for rear underride guards are outdated and do not work as effectively with modern vehicles now equipped with crumple zones and airbag deployment sensors. 

  2. Require trucks be equipped with side and front underride guards. Side and front underride guards are currently not required on trucks, but research has demonstrated considerable driver and passenger safety improvements.

  3. Inspection and Review of Underride Standards. As a part of the inspection, all large trucks would be checked for properly installed underride guards. Underride standards are not routinely reviewed and need to be revaluated in response to advancements in vehicle technology.

Since large trucks typically sit far higher than passenger vehicles, underride guards can help prevent vehicles from going underneath the truck in an accident and can make the accidents that do occur far less devastating. While some trucks are already equipped with this technology, many are not and that's why Schumer is calling for quick action on a federal standard that would apply across the board. 

According to news reports, on January 2nd, a tractor-trailer was traveling eastbound on the I-90 in the right-hand lane. The driver reacted to an accident ahead, likely caused by especially slick and near whiteout conditions, and came to an abrupt stop. Edward Torres was traveling behind the tractor-trailer and struck the back of the truck. Three doctors from Erie County Medical Center treated him in the field, and he was transported to ECMC but was pronounced dead shortly after.

Schumer was joined by Marisabel Coogan, daughter of Edward Torres; Corey Coogan, son-in-law of Edward Torres; Tom Quatroche, President & CEO, Erie County Medical Center; and Michael Manka, Chief of Emergency Medicine, Erie County Medical Center.

Schumer said the horrific I-90 crash is yet another painful reminder that truck safety standards in this country must be improved. Schumer vowed to push for passage of bipartisan legislation that would accomplish improvements to truck safety so that other families would be saved from the loss of a loved one from a trucking accident. Schumer said that the federal government must do all that it can to ensure that when New Yorkers get behind the wheel – to school, work, and around the state – they and those they carry with them are safe from danger.