Many people recognize Jayne Mansfield’s contributions to Hollywood, but few know that one of the biggest impacts of Mansfield’s life would actually be her death. The Hollywood starlet rose to fame during the 50s and 60s and would be the reason that safety experts finally took on the problem of cars crashing into the undercarriages of tractor trailers, spurring the creation of the so-called “Mansfield bars,” which are now referred to as underride bars, among other names. These bars have been responsible for saving countless lives by preventing vehicles from ending up under big trucks in crash situations.
In June of 1967, Mansfield, along with three of her five children, her driver and her attorney, were traveling from Mississippi to New York for a scheduled television appearance. In the early morning hours, Mansfield’s car, speeding along a foggy highway, collided with a tractor trailer and ended up completely beneath it. The top of the car was totally sheared off, which authorities say killed the adult passengers in the vehicle almost immediately. Mansfield’s three children were riding in the back seat and sustained only minor injuries (one of them, Mariska Hargitay, went on to play the iconic role of Olivia Benson in “Law and Order: SVU”).
In the wake of this tragic accident that claimed the lives of one of America’s most popular actresses at the time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for mandatory underride bars to be installed on all semi truck trailers. These bars hang from the back of the truck’s cargo area with the job of stopping cars from rolling beneath the truck.
It’s important to remember that any time a traditional passenger vehicle collides with a semi or big rig, the results are never pretty—Mansfield bars or not. These trucks weigh 80,000 pounds on average, making them 40 times as hefty as the standard car on the nation’s roadways. The sheer size and mass of big trucks make them the bosses of the road, and for that reason drivers must stay vigilant to the perils they represent. This includes recognizing why these devastating accidents happen in order to avoid them. Experts say that the most common cause of rear-end collisions with big trucks include:
- Driver fatigue.
- Distracted driving.
- Traffic congestion.
- Brake failure.
- Poor or inclement weather.
- Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact Compass Law Group right away to discuss your case details. Truck accidents are more complex than other types of accidents, largely due to the fact that there are so many different federal regulations regarding these trucks on our nation’s highways and interstates. Our Los Angeles truck accident attorney is standing by to answer any questions you may have about your legal options going forward and is ready to get the ball rolling on your claim. Schedule your no-cost, no-obligation case consultation with our compassionate legal team now.