In the summer of 1967, actress Jayne Mansfield suffered a decapitation when the car she was in ran beneath the back of a tractor-trailer. This catastrophic accident led to the implementation of underride guards, commonly called Mansfield bars, on commercial vehicles across the country.
If you regularly drive near tractor-trailers, you have undoubtedly noticed at least one Mansfield bar. These bars sit just beneath the doors on semi-tractor trailers. Rather than allowing a car to pass beneath the trailer, the bar collides with the car’s bumper and crumple zones.
The National Transportation Safety Administration requires all big rigs to have functioning underride guards. These guards must meet precise height, width and installation requirements. If a truck does not have a Mansfield bar, it may not pass a future safety inspection. Likewise, a trucker who removes a required one may have legal liability for any resulting injuries.
Most Mansfield bars are steel beams that either weld directly onto semi-truck trailers or attach securely with nuts and bolts. Over time, these bars may corrode or otherwise degrade. This is particularly true if the truck operates in places with high humidity or salty air. Regardless, truckers and trucking companies should regularly inspect all Mansfield bars and perform any necessary maintenance.
To be profitable, truckers must comply with tight deadlines when picking up and delivering loads. These time constraints may leave little time for ordinary maintenance. Still, if a trucker or trucking company prioritizes its bottom line over your safety, your life may never be the same again.
Ultimately, if you have suffered a serious injury because of a missing or faulty Mansfield bar, you may be eligible for substantial compensation from the driver, trucking company or another party.