Regardless of where you drive in Louisiana, you are apt to encounter at least one tractor-trailer. After all, commercial vehicles transport necessary goods across the Pelican State. If a semitruck has certain modifications, though, your life may be in danger. 

While large trucks may be more dangerous than other vehicles, semitruck safety has advanced significantly in recent decades. That is, modern commercial vehicles have a variety of collision-avoidance systems. If an accident happens, tractor-trailers also have features to help minimize injuries. One of these is the Mansfield bar. 

The purpose of the Mansfield bar 

In 1967, Jayne Mansfield, an American screen legend, was traveling down a highway in her car. Unfortunately, anti-mosquito fog blocked visibility on the highway, causing the actress’s vehicle to collide with the back end of a tractor-trailer. 

After the smoke cleared, the accident scene was catastrophic. Mansfield’s vehicle had driven beneath the truck’s trailer, resulting in the actress’s instant death. To keep other motorists safe, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires all semitrucks to have under-ride bars. These bars prevent vehicles from passing beneath commercial vehicles. 

The danger of truck modification 

While federal regulations require under-ride bars, commonly called Mansfield bars, on all tractor-trailers, some truck operators may modify their vehicles by removing the bar. Doing so, though, is not only illegal, but it also puts other motorists in danger. Therefore, if you sustain a serious injury after rear-ending a tractor-trailer, it is important to investigate whether the vehicle had a functional Mansfield bar. 

Common truck modification injuries 

If a tractor-trailer is missing its Mansfield bar, you are vulnerable to a variety of injuries. Specifically, you may sustain significant trauma to your head, neck and torso. In extreme cases, a modified tractor-trailer may also result in decapitation. 

Recovering from injuries you sustain in a collision with a modified tractor-trailer may take a significant amount of time and money. Nevertheless, if the owner of the semitruck chose to modify the vehicle illegally, you may be able to pursue fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.