No one wants to get into a car crash. People on the road adhere to special practices to limit the risk of a serious or fatal crash. From wearing your seat belt to avoiding the streets between 2 and 3 in the morning after bars close, there’s a lot you can do to minimize your risk. When it comes to commercial vehicles, taking extra care is incredibly important. Commercial truck accidents resulting in fatalities and catastrophic injuries, especially related to underride accidents, have increased in recent years.
This is due to an ever-increasing number of commercial vehicles on the road. You can try to stay safe by not driving behind them or in their blind spots, but it is impossible to avoid commercial vehicles on the road these days completely. Especially when traffic is moving quickly, like on a freeway or interstate, the risk of major crashes with these vehicles is higher than ever. One specific kind of crash, an underride accident, shouldn’t even happen.
Understanding Underride Accidents
An underride accident is a kind of collision unique to massive commercial vehicles. In these collisions, a smaller passenger vehicle ends up underneath the larger commercial vehicle. Typically, they happen from the side or the rear. In both cases, the potential for a fatality, even a decapitation, is quite high.
A rear underride accident usually happens when a smaller car hits the back of a commercial truck. Sometimes, there isn’t an underride guard in place. Other times, it’s faulty. Whether the driver accelerated into the back of the semi or the semi suddenly stopped in front of them or cut them off, the result is usually the same. The smaller vehicle gets pulled under the rear wheels and crushed.
Side underride crashes happen when a vehicle slips under a trailer between the front and rear tires. The vehicle is likely to get crushed by one set of wheels. Unlike rear underride crashes, there is not currently a federal law requiring side guards like there is for rear guards. Vehicles that cross into Canada may have them. Most others will not.
Underride Accidents Don’t Need to Happen
The truth is that no system can prevent all accidents. Human error, machinery malfunctions and weather conditions will always impact the safety of drivers. However, underride accidents could nearly be eliminated with a little investment from owner-operators and commercial trucking companies.
Side guards, which are metal sheets hanging down to prevent a car from sliding under the sides of a trailer, should be installed. The rear guards are already required under law, but many companies buy cheap or poorly designed rear guards that don’t offer optimal protection. Until the cost of crashes exceeds the costs of safety equipment, trucking companies will likely continue avoiding installing and upgrading these life-saving devices.