LEESBURG, Fla. - Sieni Eberhardt is haunted by trucks.
"If I drive on the road, I will see a truck. I will speed up just to get away from it," said Eberhardt. "All I see is him under that truck."
Her husband, a Riviera Beach police officer, was killed in 2001 when he drove into a stopped tractor-trailer truck on a dark road.
Donald Eberhardt, 32, left behind two children.
"He was not there," said the widow, wiping away a tear. "He was not there for me and my kids."
Officer Eberhardt was one of the more than 400 drivers and passengers who are killed on average every year in what's called an under-ride collision. About 5,000 more are injured.
Crash tests by the insurance industry have shown the devastating outcome of a standard passenger car colliding with the rear of a tractor trailer.
"A guard can still fail in a crash test with a speed as low as 30 or 35 miles an hour," said Matthew Brumbelow, senior research engineer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The tests show the built-in metal guard on the trailer gives way easily, allowing a car to dive beneath the trailer. The bed of the truck peels back the hood and the windshield of the car at just about neck level for front seat occupants.
Under-ride guards, required by law since the 1950s, are supposed to prevent this. But controlled testing by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety found that many of the guards just aren't strong enough.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that, while the impact-absorbing engine compartments of cars have become more effective in protecting passengers, the standards for under-ride guards on trailers have remained unchanged since the 1990s.
The accident scene showed that Wallace lost a massive amount of blood. He also suffered damage to his eye and a fractured skull. But he survived.
"Looking at these pictures, does this bring back any recollections of the accident?" ABC Action News Anchor Brendan McLaughlin asked Wallace during an interview.
"No, I don't remember any of this," Wallace replied.
As he recovers, Wallace wonders if a sturdier under-ride guard would have spared him his injury.
The federal agency in charge of truck safety in this country, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, won't require tougher standards here until its own testing is complete. In a statement, the agency added: "The driving public should know that we are already actively working to address the issues raised in the IIHS report."
Nor is the Florida Trucking Association calling for tougher standards.
An association spokesman told the ABC Action News I-Team that his trade group is concerned about the added cost and weight of stronger under-ride guards. "We're up for safety," said Eddie Hosegood. "But we have to look at results because anything you add to a truck, of course, is going to add weight to it."
The insurance industry tests found some of the heaviest under-ride guards were the worst performers in crash tests.
John Wallace said he hopes something is done before another tragedy strikes. "We shouldn't just decide, 'hey, something is there to make it safe and stop,'" he said. "We should always be striving to make things safer."
Below is a response to our story from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: