73% of all fatalities in a truck accident in 2014 were the occupants of other vehicles, according to the NHTSA. The immense size and weight of large trucks can result in devastation for a passenger vehicle and its occupants when it comes to a collision. This is especially true in the event of truck underride crashes.
Few truck accidents are more destructive than those that involve a passenger car getting lodged underneath a large semi-truck. The bed of a trailer is often higher than the hood of a standard car. In an underride or undercarriage crash, a car goes partially or completely under a truck or trailer. This dramatically increases the chance of severe injury or death. A car can go under the rear of a truck or may also get lodged under the side of a truck or tractor-trailer. This is referred to as a side underride crash.
Large trucks and semitrailers are required to have undererride guards. They are large steel bars that hang from the rear of a truck to prevent a passenger vehicle from getting lodged underneath in the event of a truck collision. Truck underride guards are not currently required on the sides of large trucks or on the rear of smaller trucks, such as garbage trucks.
Even in a low speed collision, a passenger vehicle can become lodged under a tractor-trailer. This happens often if the proper guards are not in place or if there are not adequate guard safety standards. Some existing guards are just not strong enough to prevent a car from sliding underneath the truck. Side underride collisions most often occur when a truck driver is attempting to turn across traffic onto a street, attempting a U-turn or backing across traffic. The driver of a passenger vehicle may not see the truck in its path until it is too late and a collision is unavoidable.
The top of the passenger vehicle is often ripped off or crushed in a truck underride crash. This often causes severe head and neck injuries or death to the passengers inside. Truck underride crashes also occur with bicyclists who don’t see a truck turning, crash and become lodged under the truck.
The NHTSA has issued improved rear safety guard standards for newer model large trucks. These standards are often not required on older model trucks. Existing guards may also not offer complete protection when a car crashes into one of the rear corners of a tractor-trailer. While lethal side underride crashes continue, there is still no law requiring side guards. Safety advocates have petitioned the NHTSA to strengthen laws and implement a new standard for underride guards. The NHTSA is moving slowly in taking action and implementing stronger truck underride guard standards.
How to prevent fatal truck underride crashes
There’s much that can be done to protect passenger car occupants from the dangers of truck underride crashes. This includes strengthening existing truck underride guards that might not be adequate in high-speed crashes. Expanding requirements to include guards on older model trucks will also help to prevent these deadly crashes. Legislation requiring side guards for all large trucks should be implemented as well.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck underride accident, call the truck accident attorneys at Distasio Kowaslski. Call the attorneys in Wilkes-Barre today at 570-970-5400. You need a lawyer who is experienced at litigating truck accident cases and in dealing with their insurance companies. The attorneys at Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen serve the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Hazleton area in NEPA.