If “heavy truck cab guard” is searched on Google, more than 1.5 million results appear. And, at least on the first page, none of those results will tell you that many of them—if not most—do not work, although a majority of trucks on the road use the devices.
What does it look like when a cab guard, which as its name suggests, is intended to protect the truck cab during a crash, fails to do so? It usually results in severe injury and often death. This was the scenario in a case filed on behalf of Larry Albritton’s family. He was killed Oct. 7, 2013, while driving a log truck when his load shifted, causing the log truck to roll over and crash. When the load of logs shifted forward in the crash, they breached the truck’s cab and struck Mr. Albritton, resulting in his death.
Few people know the aluminum guards are often too weak to save a driver’s life. Thousands of log trucks use cab guards that are worthless for protection.
The guards attach to the backs of 18-wheelers pulling flat beds, trailers and log trailers and should function to prevent shifting cargo from hitting the cab of large trucks. However, as I discovered, that’s not the reality. Many are not strong enough to withstand the movement of even one log on a log truck, much less the scores that are usually placed on them.
In a quest to increase profits, cab guard manufacturers often choose to use aluminum rather than something stronger like steel, which would not sacrifice safety, without accurately testing the consequences of the decision. For instance, one brand of cab guard available for purchase through the “heavy truck cab guard” Google search states, “All Cab Racks are tested to uniform static resistance.”
In technical terms, it is saying its ability to protect a driver was tested while the truck was not moving. No wreck is static; one log could cause a failure. Cab guard manufacturers’ shortcuts continue to prove costly for consumers who believe they are protected.
However, as a result of Mr. Albritton’s case, which resulted in a $16.8 million verdict from a Lowndes County, Alabama, jury in January 2016, two of the cab guard manufacturers now say on their websites that cab guards should not be used as safety devices on log trucks. In fact, when clicking on a cab guard on one company’s website, a warning box appears stating the device will not prevent serious injury or death. The warnings are a welcome step in the right direction for protecting unsuspecting log truck drivers who think they are safe.
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For more information on heavy truck cab guards and their defects, contact LaBarron Boone of Beasley Allen’s Personal Injury/Product Liability Section by email at LaBarron.Boone@BeasleyAllen.com.