Most drivers understand that it’s important to use great caution when at the wheel. This is particularly true during periods of bad weather, traveling at high speeds, or sharing the road with much larger (or smaller) vehicles. Collisions and crashes happen all the time, but deadly truck accidents and those that result in major injuries can often be prevented with adequate safety equipment and a considered approach to risk reduction behind the wheel for both the motorist and truck alike. These large truck crashes are often preventable, and the serious injuries and fatalities resulting from an underride crash could also be preventable.
When there’s a major size discrepancy between the vehicles involved in a crash, the smaller vehicle inevitably stands a greater chance of serious damage and injuries to the people inside it. That’s why understanding truck accidents are so important to your safety on the road. In the case of a smaller vehicle having a rear-end crash into the rear underride or side underride guards of a tractor-trailer, we find that these underride crashes can be deadly.
When people think of collisions and crashes between commercial trucks with semi-trailers, they typically think of accidents where a truck hits a car or vice versa. However, one of the most terrifying and deadly forms of commercial truck accidents involves smaller passenger vehicles ending up underneath a larger commercial truck. These accidents are called underride accidents, and although they are preventable, they still pose a serious risk to many drivers. Roughly 200 people a year die in these collisions.
There are two kinds of underride crashes: rear crashes and lateral crashes. A smaller vehicle strikes the back of slower-moving or stopped commercial truck trailers in a rear crash. Without an adequate underride guard, the smaller vehicle can end up beneath the truck from an underride collision. Injuries from these crashes are often catastrophic, with the vehicle totally demolished and the passengers killed as a result.
Lateral underride crashes happen when a passenger vehicle slips underneath the side of the trailer attached to the commercial truck. The smaller vehicle can get damaged by the trailer itself or pinned under the front or rear wheels of the commercial truck. Major damage to the vehicle involved, as well as severe injuries and even deaths for passengers and drivers, are common in these tragic but preventable collisions.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests and previous truck accidents show that both underride crash types can result in devastating serious injuries to those in the passenger vehicle. It can be tragic when a smaller vehicle slams into and rear-ends a commercial truck, and these truck accidents have plagued the trucking industry for decades. They have been the cause of serious injuries to accident victims across the United States.
To reduce the growing number of rear underride crashes, federal safety standards began requiring rear-end crash guards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in conjunction with the Department of Transportation, has worked with lawmakers to put safety standards in place where the rear underride guards should prevent a car from sliding under after colliding with the rear of the truck. Many semi-trucks have these rear impact guards.
In some cases, however, cost-cutting practices in both manufacturing and maintenance have led to faulty underride guards. Rusted or poorly made guards can break or crumble when hit in a vehicle crash, leaving the smaller vehicle in a seriously dangerous situation, making 18-wheeler and commercial truck maintenance in the trucking industry all the more important.
Side underride guards are not required at this time. These are often metal sheets hanging from the sides of the trailer, intended to prevent when a car slides underneath the open area. The trucking companies and truckers that make up the trucking industry need to consider the importance of these safety panels in order to reduce the potential for serious and fatal car crashes with motor vehicles and small passenger vehicles.
When a semi-truck has issues and is on the side of the road for repairs are when a chance for an accident, such as side underride crashes or side underride collisions. This can also happen when a semi-truck tries to make a U-turn, and the other motor vehicle doesn’t see them. Underride protection will hopefully become more prevalent as time goes on, and the U.S. Department of Transportation can see the advantages of them for all types of trucks that could benefit from underride protection.
If you or a loved one are an underride accident victim, please call our Kansas City-based law firm today for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Regardless of who may appear to be at fault, whether the motorist or the truck driver, it can be helpful to have a legal professional review your case and ensure you can make the strongest personal injury claim possible and get you the maximum compensation you deserve.