The Story Behind These Safety Bars On Semi Trucks Ties Into A Famous Actress
I'm here to tell you, it really is true. You learn something new every day. This just happens to be some water cooler talk I was recently told about. The subject landed on semi-trucks. They're all over the highways delivering goods and products across the country. You've probably noticed the bar hanging below the trailer that is usually wrapped in reflective stripes. It turns out those bars were not always on trucks. There's a story about how they came to be and it ties into a famous actress.
Nowadays these bars are required on all semi-truck trailers by the U.S. Government. They're known as Mansfield bars, a safety device to prevent cars from sliding under the trailers.
According to an article from Autoweek, it was back in 1967 when the actress Jayne Mansfield, her driver, lawyer, and three of her children were headed to New Orleans to do an interview. It was early in the morning on June 28th. The driver didn't see that the semi-truck in front of him had slowed down due to some mosquito fogging that was being done. The fog engulfed the trailer and the driver didn't react in time.
The 1966 Buick slid into the back of the trailer. Mansfield along with others was killed in the accident. Due to the gruesomeness of the crash, these safety bars have been required since. Technically called a Rear Underrun Protection System, they quickly picked up the name Mansfield bars.
While Mansfield died in the crash, the children did survive. One is Mariska Hargitay which you may have seen on Law and Order SVU.
Playing it safe on the highway is the way to go especially when there are semi-trucks involved. Of course, you'll see an array of vehicles on the road. Some of which are hard to miss. Look below and you'll see what I mean.