Every year, thousands of people are seriously injured or killed in 18 wheeler crashes of all kinds. Of all these accidents, none are more deadly than underride crashes, where smaller vehicles slide underneath larger, taller tractor trailers. Although there is safety equipment to prevent these types of accidents, the equipment is not foolproof and sometimes has even been found to be of no help. Truck wreck attorneys who deal with these and other devastating truck accident cases warn that awareness and careful driving is the best prevention for these often fatal accidents.
What Are Underride Crashes?
Underride crashes are accidents that happen when a passenger vehicle slides under the rear or side of a tractor trailer. Semi trucks are much taller than most passenger vehicles, which means that smaller, lower vehicles can easily slide or be pushed underneath a truck trailer as a result. These accidents are severe and often fatal, as passenger vehicles can be crushed by the back or sides of tractor trailers or run over by the rear wheels.
How Underride Crashes Happen
The most common type of underride crashes happen when passenger cars rear-end slower-moving tractor trailers, usually due to poor visibility or the inability to stop in time. When this happens, the nose of a smaller, lower vehicle ends up pushed under the rear bumper of the truck, causing the bumper to crush the top of the car and eventually enter the passenger compartment.
Side underride accidents happen when passenger vehicles traveling beside a truck trailer accidentally leave their lane and sway into the lane of a truck, causing the car to slide underneath and become crushed. This also happens when trucks veer out of their lanes and end up sideswiping passenger cars, which can be forced under the deck of the trailer.
Controversies Over Truck Guards
To prevent underride crashes and resulting fatalities, Federal law requires that trucks be equipped with an undercarriage truck guard. The purpose of these guards is to stop a lower vehicle from getting underneath the truck and prevent the bumper from crushing the windshield and continuing on to enter the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Unfortunately, crash data studies show that the required truck guards have not been found to be effective in saving lives. In some accidents, the guards have broken off; in others, cars have forced under the truck’s bumper and the guard as well.
In comparison, trucks in Canada have differently designed truck guard rails that have proven to actually work and save lives. Due to this startling difference, there are efforts to change the 15-year-old Federal requirement to the more advanced, effective truck guards used in Canada or some similarly effective design. Currently, U.S. trucks are required to have some kind of conspicuous markings like reflective tape on the back and sides to help drivers notice them. As far as guard rails are concerned, there is still a long way to go.
Underride crashes are some of the deadliest truck accidents that happen on the highways today. The possibility of underride 18 wheeler crashes always exists when passenger vehicles share the road with semi trucks. Due to the nature of how these accidents happen, truck wreck attorneys suggest that avoiding these fatal accidents requires drivers to be alert and drive at a safe distance when near big rig trucks!
Pearland, Pasadena, Webster, League City, Webster, Manvel, Alvin, Friendswood, La Marque, Texas City, and Galveston
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190