Most people who drive already know that commercial trucks, like eighteen wheelers and semitrucks, pose a greater risk to other drivers than passenger vehicles. With their massive size and extreme weight, commercial trucks make wider turns, take longer to stop and can utterly destroy smaller vehicles in a crash. No matter how many steps you take to stay safe on the road, an accident is always a possibility.
A collision with a commercial truck could result in serious injuries, catastrophic property damage and even death. Despite increased awareness of the risks trucks can pose to other vehicle, serious injuries and fatalities are on the rise. One of the most deadly, and also most preventable, truck-related crashes is the underride collision.
What is an underride collision?
Underride collisions are accidents that happen when smaller passenger vehicles end up trapped and crushed under much larger commercial trucks. There are three kinds of underride collisions, including frontal underrides, side underrides and rear underrides.
Frontal underrides happen when a commercial truck rear-ends a smaller vehicle. Its large tires and momentum may push it up and over the small vehicle, crushing it and endangering the lives of the occupants. Rear underrides happen when a passenger vehicle hits the rear end of the commercial truck, which can push it under the tires and shear the top off the of vehicle.
Finally, side underrides happen when a car passes between the wheels on the trailer of a commercial truck, leaving the passengers at risk of crushing from any of the nearby wheels.
Special guards on trucks can prevent rear and side underrides
While there is little that can fully prevent frontal underride collisions, both side and rear underride crashes are preventable. There are special guards for commercial trucks that can substantially reduce the risk of one of these crashes.Sadly, far too many domestic trucking companies fail to properly invest in these life-saving devices. Companies may try to save money by purchasing the cheapest and smallest rear underride guards required by law. Given that they're made of thick metal, larger sized rear underride guards cost more money. However, wider guards more effectively prevent these tragic accidents from happening, regardless of the angle of approach for the smaller vehicle.
The United States does not currently require side underride guards, which means many companies don't invest in them. You may see them on trucks that cross the border into Canada, because our neighbors to the north recognize that these devices can save lives.
Faulty or inadequate guards can result in tragedy
When truck drivers and trucking companies put profits before safety, the cost is often measured in severe injuries or human lives. If you sustained critical injuries in an otherwise preventable underride crash or lost a loved one, you may have a case for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.