Semi trucks along interstate 65

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WDRB) -- A southern Indiana mother and teacher is taking her story to Washington D.C., in hopes to make roads across America safer. 

Christa Hammack is calling for safety changes that could help prevent deadly underride crashes. Her daughter, Erin Alexander, and her daughter's friend, Jordan Hensley, were killed in an underride crash on their way to work in May 2018.

"I find out that it was a semi that had crossed four lanes of traffic and that the girls had went underneath," Hammack said. "The girls had died instantly, and my worst imagination became my reality."

Erin was 22, and Jordan was 26. The girls' deaths inspired Hammack to speak up and push for change. 

"I said there's got to be more to this," Hammack said. "And so this grief became my purpose."

Hammack, a local teacher, is now working with families of other underride crash victims to push for safety changes.

"I don't want one more person to drive by a semi and have to worry," she said. 

They're working to get a federal bill passed that would require side and front guards on tractor trailers. Hammack attended a series of crash tests last month that show how different types of guards could make a difference. Guards are currently required along on the back of trucks but not along the sides. Side underride crashes often render car safety features useless, which makes them particularly dangerous and often deadly.

In 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates crashes, recommended that all new large trailers have side protection systems.

"It will not prevent all deaths," Hammack said. "But it's a chance, just like seat belts and airbags."

Five years after that recommendation, no regulations are in place. Hammack understands the hesitation from the trucking industry but said this is a no-brainer. She wants this to be a collaborative effort between victims families and trucking companies. 

"These conversations have to happen now. They have to be real. They have to be raw, and they have to be timely," Hammack said. "And the only way that this happens is if the legislators put it up in front of them and get going."

If you think the safety changes are a good idea, Hammack urges you to reach out to your federal representatives. 

For more information about underride crashes, click here

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