If you hit a tractor-trailer with your car, you're going to lose. Still, the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) wants to increase your chances with better truck guards. And frankly, I was surprised at the news, because I didn't realize how bad some of them are.
These so-called "underride guards" are the metal cages that you see on the backs of the trailers; they're intended to prevent a car from sliding under, which will in turn put the trailer square into the passenger compartment. Canadian standards for these guards are stronger than U.S. ones, but don't be too smug: while a Canadian-spec guard did a good job of protecting a vehicle's occupants in a straight-on crash test, it didn't fare so well in an offset crash, and the driver would pretty much have been decapitated.
You can read all about it by clicking on the IIHS website, and then go to the upper right-hand side and watch the video.
If you've ever tailgated a tractor-trailer, I'm guessing that film will make you think twice about it next time.