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The Impact of Jayne Mansfield’s Death on Trucks’ Design

7 Factors That Might Complicate Your Truck Accident Case

Perhaps you have always wondered what purpose the steel bar below the back of a semi truck’s cargo area serves. There is an exciting but tragic story behind what is now popularly called “Mansfield Bar.” Its primary purpose is to prevent passenger vehicles from running into semi-truck trailers. 

The bars, also called “under-ride bars,” were designed after the saddening and gruesome death of Hollywood star Jayne Mansfield. 

Mansfield was a creative movie star with an impressive physique and beauty. However, she had a questionable choice of male suitors, negatively affecting her career. Her career had already taken a downward trajectory at the time of her tragic death. 

Jayne Mansfield’s Death

Mansfield’s movie career took a downward trajectory in the mid-1960s, coinciding with when she wanted to part ways with Mickey Hargitay, the father of three of her five children. She was also having an affair with her divorce lawyer. 

Mansfield became distressed as she battled simultaneously with a failing career, a crashing marriage, and jealous suitors, which caused her to consume alcohol uncontrollably as a way out of her psychological trauma. She also began accepting works at low-tier venues not befitting her stature as a Hollywood superstar. 

Mansfield’s Tragic End

Mansfield’s last public appearance was at the supper club in Biloxi—on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She was supposed to honor a scheduled interview with the New Orleans TV station the next day. 

On the following day, precisely on 29 June 1967, Mansfield, her attorney cum lover, her three children, and her pet Chihuahua set out for the scheduled interview at the Crescent City. They hired a driver who took them on a journey on Highway 90 and trailed after a semi-truck. 

The Fatal Accident

As their car neared the city limits of Slidell in Louisiana, a local mosquito truck spraying the ditches with a repellant along the narrow route was directly ahead of the semi-truck. The spray caused a considerable fog cloud that substantially reduced the visibility on the highway. 

Mansfield’s hired driver plowed into the semi-truck’s rear, which had slowed down before them. The top of the passenger vehicle peeled off unimaginably. The three front-seat passengers could not survive the impact of the mishap. 

Although there were rumors that the wreck had decapitated Mansfield, the authorities established the claim to be false. But the adults and pet Chihuahua could not survive the injuries. However, all three children at the back survived the accident. 

In fact, Mansfield’s daughter, Mariska Hargitay, who was only three then, eventually played Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SUV, a hit TV show. Perhaps, we can say that she took after her mother. 

Implications of the Fatal Crash

After the disastrous accident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated that every semi-truck trailer have under-ride bars. The under-ride bars were nicknamed “Mansfield bars” because of their connection with the Hollywood icon. 

While it is impossible to have the statistics of the lives saved due to this initiative, there is no gainsaying that it has contributed in no small measures to highway safety. 

“Semi-truck accidents are one of the most devastating occurrences on the road. If you suffer injuries due to the negligence of a semi-truck driver, you may want to seek compensation. Contact an attorney to help you in this legal battle,” says injury attorney Matt Shaffer of Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, LLP

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