Underride collisions are among the most deadly types of accidents involving commercial trucks. An underride collision occurs when a smaller car or truck slides underneath a large tractor-trailer. These accidents are frequently fatal because the bottom of the larger truck will likely crush the top of the smaller vehicle upon impact. Underride collisions are not limited to rear-end collisions. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, (IIHS) of reported underride crashes, 57% were found to have involved the front of the truck, 22% occurred in the rear of the truck, and 20% involved the side of the truck.
Common Causes of Underride Collisions
Anytime a smaller car or truck slides and becomes wedged under the larger truck it is considered an underride collision. Underride collisions often occur as the result of:
- Improper truck maintenance—defective brakes can lead to a truck hitting a smaller vehicle in front of it. Defective brake lights can prevent the driver of a smaller vehicle from noticing when a truck slows down or stops. This increases the risk of the rear driver sliding under the back of the truck. In addition, improper reflective gear can contribute to an accident in poor visibility conditions.
- Weather conditions—night blindness or inclement weather can make even a large tractor-trailer or a smaller vehicle difficult to see.
- Reckless, distracted, or impaired driving—these factors can lead to truck and smaller vehicle drivers making poor decisions. Improper lane changes and following too closely can all contribute to underride collisions. Speeding and not paying attention can also be factors.
- Inadequate underside guards—in many cases larger trucks are not equipped with proper safety guards to prevent a smaller vehicle from becoming lodged underneath. Either the truck lacks guards completely, or the guards are not sturdy enough to prevent a car from getting stuck under the truck. In addition, even the sturdiest guards may not be enough to prevent an underride collision when the vehicles are moving at a high rate of speed.
Prevention of Underride Collisions
While careful and attentive driving by both the drivers of smaller vehicles and the truck drivers are the most important factor in preventing underride collisions, adequate underside guards also play a significant role. Commercial trucks operating in the United States are required to have rear underride guards. They are not, however, required to have guards on the side of trucks. An IIHS test found that rear and side underride guards present significant safety benefits. There has been a push made to require side underride guards on all trucks, but despite the fact that 200 people are killed in side underride collisions every year, action has still not been taken.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
If you or someone you love has been injured in an underride collision, you should consult with an experienced and trusted attorney. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.