Underride Crashes and Underguard Requirements
Truck underride accidents are among the most serious types of accidents that occur on roadways. An underride accident occurs when a vehicle (usually a standard passenger vehicle) slams into the back or side of a tractor-trailer and continues sliding underneath the rig – causing severe, debilitating injuries or fatalities.
Every year in the United States, over 200 people lose their lives in underride crashes. When this accident occurs, the top of the car either shears off or is crushed as it slides underneath the trailer. Larger trucks such as dump trucks, delivery trucks, and tractor trailers, are particularly hazardous.
Types of underride accidents
Generally, there are two types of underride accidents:
- Side underride collisions. These truck accidents most often occur when a truck driver is turning onto a street, crossing a street, or making a U-turn maneuver. Drivers approaching from the opposite direction may not notice the truck about to cross their path. Many underride accidents happen at night when driver visibility is poorest. In some cases, drivers improperly estimate the speed of a truck, thinking it will move through the roadway in time.
- Rear underride collisions. These truck crashes occur when a passenger vehicle slams into and underneath the rear of a large truck or semi-trailer. Some drivers of passenger vehicles in these accidents fail to recognize a truck slowing down or stopping and end up rear-ending the trailer. In other cases, a vehicle may slam into a parked truck on the side of the road. Weather may also play a role, with a car losing control on icy or slipper roads and sliding under the trailer.
Rear guards are required, but side guards are not
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started mandating rear underguards on large trucks and semis in 1998. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of these guards in stopping vehicles from sliding underneath a trailer when crashing in the rear of the truck.
Currently, however, no mandates are in place for the installation of side guards on all large tractor-trailers. The NTSB is responsible for investigating accidents and has issued recommendations to the NHTSA for all new tractor-trailers to be equipped with side guards.
It is incumbent upon lawmakers and trucking manufacturers to move forward with an update to the standards for rear guards on tractor-trailers, and to pass new requirements for side guards in order to prioritize the safety of everyone.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in an underride truck accident, or another type of accident involving a large truck or tractor-trailer, the Maryland truck accident attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. are here to help. We can gather the necessary evidence and present your case to effectively pursue the compensation you deserve. To arrange a consultation, give us a call today at 410.730.7737 or fill out our contact form and send us a message.
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