Thousands of commercial heavy trucks crisscross the country every day. They provide the much-needed service of transporting goods across the nation. Unfortunately, they also have the potential for causing dangerous traffic accidents.

What is an Underride Crash?

An underride crash occurs when a smaller vehicle slides under the body of a heavy truck during the accident. The raised design of heavy truck trailers allows room for a smaller vehicle to fit underneath the truck. Often in this type of crash, the top of the smaller vehicle is cut off. This can lead to devastating life-altering injuries or fatalities.

There are 2 types of underride crashes:

Rear underride crashes–the smaller vehicle gets forced under the rear of the heavy truck

Side underride crashes–the smaller vehicle goes under the side of the heavy truck

The leading causes of underride crashes often include:

  • the truck driver pulls out in front of the smaller vehicle
  • the truck driver makes a negligent turn on to the smaller vehicle
  • the truck driver comes to a sudden stop in front of the smaller vehicle
  • the truck does not have proper reflective tape installed
  • the truck does not have underride guard in place
  • slippery roads and poor visibility

Preventing Underride Crashes

Safety experts believe that heavy truck underride crashes are preventable with the use of underride guards. The guards are metal barriers fitted around the truck’s underside to help keep smaller vehicles from fitting underneath during a crash.

Since 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mandated that all heavy trucks have underride guards added to their rear. Studies have shown that the rear underride guards have helped in the prevention of underride crashes. But, some data shows that many of the rear guards manufactured under current safety standards are not as strong as they need to be. They often fail to prevent an underride crash.

Legislators have introduced a bill advocating stronger safety standards to prevent underride crashes. The Stop Underrides Act proposes updating the standards for the use of rear guards and also requiring heavy trucks to have side guards. The legislation would also require periodic inspections of every truck’s underride guards. If a truck fails inspection, it would be taken out of service, at least until the problem gets fixed.

This legislation has yet to pass. Lobbyists representing commercial trucking groups have strongly argued against the legislation. They claim the underride guards would add weight to the trucks which would lead to the reduction of loads and an increase in their fuel expenses. They argued for protecting their profit margins, not lives.

Getting Help after a Heavy Truck Crash

If you have been injured in a heavy truck crash, it could be hard to get the compensation you deserve. Trucking companies notoriously fight against paying compensation to crash victims. They have big insurance companies who use attorneys that make it their mission to prevent victim compensation.

Because of this, you need someone with experience fighting on your side. Brock & Stout’s attorneys have over 27 years of experience helping heavy truck crash victims. Contact us for a free evaluation of your accident claim to see if we can help you.