How To Get Rid of the Threat of an Underride Accident

By Subodh / March 13, 2014

Countless motorist travel crowded highways everyday and are faced with multiple perils. One such peril is the threat of an underride accident involving a big truck. The number of fatal semi-truck related crashes is increasing nationwide and many of those deaths include slider accidents.

An underride accident occurs when a vehicle hits the rear of a large truck and slides underneath the trailer. In the majority of cases, the vehicle’s occupants do not survive the crash because the top of the vehicle is torn off or folds in like an accordion, and the rear of the truck ends up in the vehicle.

For instance, the state of Missouri recorded 89 fatal crashes involving a large truck in 2012, a decrease from the 2011 number of 101, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Statistics do not include how many crashes involved underride accidents.

Nationwide, 3,921 people died and 104,000 people were injured in accidents in 2012. The NHTSA report found that larger trucks were three times more likely than other vehicles to get hit in the rear in two-vehicle fatal accidents.

Victims who have been injured or had loved ones killed in this monster of an accident, should consult with a legal professional regarding the matter. Missouri’s statute of limitations for personal injury accident lawsuits is five years when negligent conduct is involved; and two years for personal injury resulting from intentional misconduct. Car accident attorneys in Independence, St. Louis or nationwide can assist in litigating cases related to these type of crashes.

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When Accidents Occur

For the most part, undderride crashes occurs from the following factors:

  • A passenger vehicle is in the blind spot of a large truck that is changing lanes.
  • A large truck’s rear lights are not working and the passenger vehicle behind it does not realize the truck is putting on its brakes.
  • A large truck does not use emergency flashers to signal to drivers behind it that it is slowing down.
  • A passenger vehicle is speeding and cannot stop when the large truck in front of it suddenly slows down.
  • The driver of a passenger vehicle is closer to a truck than he realizes because of poor visibility due to inclement weather.

Trucks Must Have Rear Guards

Federal law requires the rear of trucks to have steel bars called “underride guards” to prevent automobiles from sliding under the truck. A series of tests carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) showed that underride guards worked when vehicles hit the center of the truck, but did not work when the vehicle hit the outer end of the guard. When the outer end of the guard broke, the vehicle slid under the outer end of the truck. The IIHS asked the NHTSA to develop tougher standards for guards to prevent underride accidents.

Rear Guards Are Preventative Measures

When it comes to making big rigs safer, the Missouri Department of Transportation follows regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA lays out extensive requirements for bumper heights on trucks as a way to prevent undderride accidents.

Rear guards on tractor trailers made after 1998 must be “substantially constructed and firmly attached,” according to the FMCSA. While strict regulations help and are necessary, they do not guarantee that this type of accident will not occur between a truck and another vehicle.

Drivers of passenger vehicles are urged to take precautions around large trucks by keeping a car length’s distance behind large trucks. In that way, passenger vehicles will have enough time and space to brake and avoid an accident.

Reference: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811868.pdf

Reference: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/underride-guards-on-big-rigs-often-fail-in-crashes-institute-petitions-government-for-new-standard

Reference: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/rulemakings/051498p.txt