Underride truck accidents occur when a smaller passenger vehicle crashes into a tractor-trailer and gets crushed underneath. They can happen at the rear of a trailer or on the side, and often result in severe or life-threatening injuries. Common factors include:
- Visibility issues: Heavy rain and fog can obstruct drivers’ view, increasing the risk of crashing into a trailer.
- Reckless driving: Truck drivers who fail to obey traffic laws can put other road users at risk of an underride accident, particularly at intersections.
- Mechanical failures: Brake failure, steering failure, tire blowouts, and loose wheels can cause trucks to careen out of control.
- Slippery road conditions: Ice and snow are common causes of underride accident when passenger-vehicle drivers are unable to stop.
- Lack of reflective devices or dirty reflective devices: At night, it may be difficult to see tractor-trailers. That’s why trucking companies should always have reflective tape or devices on their vehicles. If reflective devices become dirty overtime, they can be dimmed or hidden altogether.
Can underride guards prevent devastating accidents?
The primary cause of underride truck accident is either lack of underride guards or poor underride guards. While only some trucks are equipped with these safeguards, there are many on Columbus roads that are not. Unfortunately, efforts by lawmakers to make underride guards mandatory, including the Stop Underrides Act of 2017 introduced by Congress, keep getting stalled.
However, tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS, HLDI) prove the effectiveness of underride guards. Using an AngelWing side guard, IIHS ran one test vehicle into a trailer at 35 mph. The side guard stopped the vehicle from being crushed underneath, leaving the test vehicle with only front-end damage.
The second vehicle was run into the trailer at 35 mph without the side guard. The top of the test vehicle was sheared off as the car became pinned underneath.
The video of the test shows:
- The first vehicle colliding with the underride guard, activating the airbag. In a real crash, the driver would most likely survive with less severe injuries.
- The second vehicle crashing underneath the trailer – resulting in catastrophic impact to the test driver’s head. In a real crash, the driver would most likely suffer a fatal head injury and/or suffer cuts and lacerations from broken glass.
Involved in a truck accident? Take action now!
If you or a loved one was injured in an underride truck accident, you will need an experienced attorney in your corner who knows how to investigate these types of crashes. Some factors your attorney may examine include:
- Was the driver stopped or parked in a way that obstructed traffic?
- Was the driver impaired, tired, distracted, or otherwise engaging in negligent driving?
- Did the trucking company properly maintain and inspect its vehicles?
- Most importantly, did the trucking company install underride guards on its vehicles?