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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: April 16, 2014 10:16 AM
From: Representative John A. Lawrence
To: All House members
Subject: Resolution Urging the Motor Safety Advisory Committee within PennDot to study the effects of Underride Equipment
Dear Colleagues –

I recently met with a constituent regarding the possibility of installing underride equipment on new school busses.

Underride or “Mansfield” bars are standard equipment on tractor-trailers, and are specifically designed to prevent a car involved in a rear-end collision from going underneath the trailer. This type of accident received national attention after the 1967 death of actress Jayne Mansfield, who was killed in a rear-end collision with a tractor trailer when her car went underneath the trailer and killed her along with two other adults in the front seat of her car.

While this equipment is standard on tractor trailers, it is not required on school busses. In speaking with my constituent, she shared how her son was involved in a fatal accident with a school bus. Tragically, the vehicle her son was driving slammed into the back of a school bus, with the cabin of the vehicle travelling underneath the rear of the school bus, killing him instantly.

For the past few months, I have researched the history of this issue, and learned that there has been some debate over the years on whether the installation of underride equipment on school busses is feasible. Numerous ideas have been put forth that could improve the chances of survival for passengers in a rear-impact accident with a school bus, but the issue has not been thoroughly reviewed by PennDOT.

With this in mind, I will be introducing a resolution in the near future urging the Motor Safety Advisory Committee within PennDOT to study the effects of underride equipment and report its finding back to the House within six months. Having some expert opinion on this topic would be very helpful in determining what should be the next step on this issue. I would appreciate your support of this initiative.

Introduced as HR852