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How to Avoid Underride Accidents


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Underride accidents pose a significant threat to motorists on the road. They occur when a smaller vehicle becomes lodged under the trailer of a large truck, such as an 18-wheeler. These incidents can cause severe damage to automobiles and injuries to occupants. It is essential to understand how to reduce the risk of underride crashes.

The first step in avoiding underride crashes is to understand how they happen. Typically, these crashes occur when a small car passes too close to or directly under a truck, causing its roof to wedge under the trailer. Factors contributing to truck underride accidents include automobile speed and size, visibility, and weather conditions.

What Is A Truck Underride Accident?

An underride accident is a type of truck collision that occurs when a smaller automobile lodges under the back or side of a truck. These incidents often cause severe damage and injury to the driver and front-seat passengers in the smaller automobile.

With over 600 reported fatalities in the US annually, truck accidents are more common than many people realize. The primary cause is the lack of rear and side underride guards on large trucks designed to prevent vehicles from traveling underneath them in a crash.

The size difference between large trucks and passenger vehicles puts the latter at a disadvantage in collisions. Even at low speeds, the smaller vehicle can be pulled under the truck, causing severe damage.

Without underride guards, drivers and passengers do not have adequate protection in the event of an accident. Trucking companies must install these guards on all vehicles to reduce truck underride crashes and improve road safety.

The Causes of Truck Underride Accidents

Underride crashes significantly cause truck-related fatalities. These crashes occur when a smaller vehicle collides with the rear or side of a truck and slides underneath it, causing severe damage and often death. The causes of truck underride crashes can vary but often involve mistakes made by the truck driver or other drivers.

Truck drivers may have poor visibility due to blind spots around their trailers, which can result in failing to see other vehicles. Other factors include:

  • Driving too fast for the weather or road conditions
  • Making abrupt lane changes
  • Poorly maintained trucks
  • Tailgating
  • Incorrect or faulty brake lights
  • Moving too slowly

The Different Types of Underride Accidents

Underride accidents, also known as truck underride crashes, occur when a smaller vehicle collides with the side or rear of a truck. Rear-end collisions are hazardous, as the smaller vehicle can slide under the car.

There are two primary types of underride truck accidents: rear and side underride.

  • Rear underride occurs when a passenger vehicle slides under the rear of the trailer in a rear-end collision.
  • Side underride occurs when a passenger vehicle slides under the side of a trailer in an intersection crash or T-bone collision.

Trucks must be equipped with effective side and rear impact guards on both sides and rear to prevent death or injury.

The Dangers of Underride Accidents

Underride guards are devices designed to prevent these crashes. They attach to the rear and sides of large trucks, creating an obstacle that prevents the smaller vehicle from sliding underneath during a collision.

Rear guards are crucial as they protect vehicles that collide with trailers from behind. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that all trucks must be equipped with underride side guards that meet specific safety standards.

To ensure the safety of drivers on the road, all trucks must have appropriate underride guard systems. Furthermore, truck drivers should always be vigilant, aware of their surroundings, and avoid sudden movements or sharp turns that may cause crashes.

If there is any suspicion that a truck's underride guard system is not functioning correctly, it should be inspected by an experienced mechanic promptly to avoid any potential hazards.

Strategies To Reduce Underride Accidents

The Department of Transportation (DOT) data analysis indicates that of the 400 deaths recorded from underride crashes yearly, about 125 involve passenger compartment intrusion.

Preventing underride crashes starts with implementing safety strategies. Using tractor-trailer underride reader guards is a proactive solution that can drastically reduce the risk of fatalities and severe injuries by protecting vehicles from sliding underneath trailers in the event of a rear impact.

Side guards are also crucial in preventing underride collisions. Installed on both sides of the trailer, they can absorb some of the impacts during a side collision and protect passengers being ejected from their vehicle in a crash.

Many countries have made rear and side underride guards mandatory for large trucks and trailers to help reduce road fatalities. By implementing adequate truck safety features such as underride guards, one can hope to avoid a rear underride crash.

Safe Driving Practices to Avoid Underride Accidents

Underride crashes can result in tragic and often fatal consequences when a passenger vehicle collides with a truck.

To minimize these incidents, motorists can adopt safe driving practices to avoid underride crashes. When a truck is turning, motorists should ensure their automobiles do not cut off oncoming vehicles or go under the tractor-trailer.

It is crucial to remember that a truck trailer has limited visibility, so drivers should provide them with extra space when passing or changing lanes to avoid a truck accident.

Furthermore, regular inspections of tractor-trailer guards are essential to ensure they function correctly and reduce underride angles and passenger compartment intrusion. Installing reflective tape can improve road visibility during nighttime and prevent an underride accident.

Properly Maintaining and Inspecting Automobiles

Over 200 people in the United States die in underride crashes involving large trucks yearly. These fatal crashes happen when a smaller car goes under the back or side of a truck, resulting in catastrophic consequences.

Truck accident attorneys have emphasized the need for motorists to regularly check their automobiles for defects that may lead to an underride crash, such as worn tires, faulty brakes, malfunctioning lights, mirrors, or insufficiently secured loads.

Motorists should also ensure their headlights are correctly aligned for better visibility to oncoming traffic. Existing guards should be checked for bending or damage from bumps or rough terrain.

Increase Visibility Around Large Trucks

Underride crashes involving large trucks can be reduced by improving visibility. Large automobiles, such as passenger vehicles, tractor-trailers, and commercial trucks, can be susceptible to underride collisions due to their size and standard design limitations. Improving visibility can decrease the risk of such crashes.

  • Avoid distracted driving: Distracted driving significantly contributes to underride crashes and can be prevented through increased awareness. Motorists should ensure that rear guard requirements are met. Paying attention to other vehicles, driving safely, and being attentive and prepared are crucial for avoiding underride incidents.
  • Obey speed limits: The trucking industry is a crucial example of following road rules, mainly to prevent underride collisions. Passenger vehicles are vulnerable to such crashes, especially if they slide underneath a truck or trailer.
  • Utilize adequate lighting: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates trucking companies to install and adequately light their trailers. Reflective tape can also increase visibility and reduce the risks of a crash.
  • Follow proper lane change procedures: Neglecting other automobiles can result in a car wedged beneath another, causing severe injuries. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) states that a driver must signal their intention to change lanes and ensure enough space between them and the car they're merging behind before switching lanes.
  • Maintain proper following distance: Keeping a safe following distance is crucial to avoid a tractor-trailer underride crash. As local data collection can attest, it can mean the difference between staying safe and life-threatening injuries during an accident.
  • Wear seat belts: To avoid underride crashes, it's vital to ensure that all car passengers always wear their seat belts. It is especially important when driving a smaller car, as these are more prone to incidents than larger cars.
  • Use adequate rear-guards: The national government issued requirements related to rear underride guards. The horizontal metal bar extends below the lower edge of a trailer to stop a car before colliding with a truck's tires. Yet these truck underride guards could be better.

Unfortunately, underride accidents continue to occur due to the lack of truck underride guards. The required underride guards include two vertical steel bars extending down from the truck's frame, with a horizontal crossbar bar about two feet from the ground.

Many lawmakers have proposed legislation to strengthen existing guards, making side guards mandatory on all commercial trailers in the trucking industry and strengthening rear guards on the corners.

Understanding How Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help Truck Underride Crash Victims

Personal injury attorneys are often valuable when resolving a compensation claim after a truck accident. Such crashes occur when the passenger compartment of a smaller vehicle is crushed underneath the truck, leading to severe and occasionally fatal injuries.

With the help of an experienced lawyer and legal advice on navigating the complicated federal regulations, you can be sure you'll get the compensation you deserve for your suffering after the crash. All it takes is one free consultation to start on your way toward justice and financial stability.