We are always trying to stay one step ahead in terms of safety here at Mytee Products. In light of that, there was a news article published on an Australian website late in 2017 that warrants further investigation. The article is causing some people to wonder if a modified headache rack could make U.S. trucks safer.
The article in question was published by Wildfire Today. This is a website dedicated to those brave Australian firefighters who battle wildfires down under. Like their American counterparts, these men and women put their lives on the line every day to protect the rest of their country’s citizens.
The point of the article was to highlight a brand-new firefighting vehicle introduced by the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning. One look at the vehicle clearly shows how much effort designers put into safety. It features a modified headache rack along with a roll bar cage to protect the cab of the truck from collapse in the event of a rollover or a tree falling on it.
The Headache Rack
Previous models of Australia’s firefighting trucks were built with a standard headache rack to protect the cab from horizontal penetration. The new model has been extended to include vertical protection as well. Attached to the top of the rack is a frame with a large plate that covers the top of the truck cab. The frame extends rearward over the front portion of the bed as well, thus offering extra protection for what appears to be a toolbox.
In testing, the modified headache rack did very well. When combined with the internal roll bar cage, it proved itself more than capable of preventing a complete cap collapse. The Australian government is so pleased with the design that they are now thinking of other ways they can implement it.
U.S. Tractor Trailers
Looking at the design of the Australian truck leads some to wonder whether we can do something similar with U.S. tractor trailers. We obviously can build modified headache racks that include an extra plate over the top of the cab. The question is, how effective would such a plate be? Moreover, is the extra protection necessary?
Headache racks on U.S. tractor trailers are designed to provide the same protection against horizontal penetration. When used in concert with a bulkhead, the chances of a tractor trailer cab being impaled by moving freight is slim to none. And yet cab roofs are left unprotected against vertical penetration and rollovers.
Photographs of trucks damaged in rollover accidents tend to make it to the front page of newspapers for many to view. Tractor trailer cabs are just as vulnerable to collapse as smaller trucks and even passenger cars. It would seem as though a modified headache rack coupled with a roll bar cage would be more than adequate for most accidents of this type.
Let the Market Decide
At this point, there doesn’t seem to be much demand among truck drivers for a modified headache rack or an internal roll bar cage. Perhaps they’ve never thought of it before, or perhaps the number of serious accidents involving cab collapse is so low that the extra reinforcement really isn’t warranted.
In the end, the market will ultimately determine whether headache racks are ever modified in the future. Manufacturers will make what their customers want. We know that here at Mytee Products. Among all the headache racks we could stock, we have chosen those models most in demand by our customers. If demand is ever there for modified headache racks with overhead plates, we will have to consider them.