There are many different kinds of truck accidents that can occur, but the most frightening and dangerous is probably the underride collision. An underride collision occurs when the force of a crash or a vehicle’s velocity pushes a smaller vehicle underneath the wheels or trailer of a massive commercial vehicle.
As you can probably imagine from that description alone, underride collisions often produce catastrophic and fatal injuries for the people in the smaller vehicle. Perhaps the most tragic thing about underride collisions is that, in almost all cases, it is possible for the trucking company involved to have prevented the collision or at least reduced its severity.
There are already vehicle accessories that prevent most underride accidents
Underride collisions are not a new phenomenon. However, they do seem to be occurring at a greater frequency than in the past, likely due to a combination of higher overall travel speeds and more commercial traffic on the roads. Researchers have already made commercial trucks that would greatly reduce underride collisions.
Design with a low clearance under the front of a commercial semi’s cab is intentional. The lower it is, the harder it is for the truck to ride up and over a vehicle from behind. When it comes to underride crashes that occur from the rear or sides of the trailer, the installation of special guards can drastically reduce the potential of a smaller vehicle going under the commercial truck. Rear underride guards are required by federal law.
You see them all the time as the rectangular metal suspended from the rear of a trailer. With many companies, however, they will purchase the cheapest guard possible, not the most effective one. Instead of investing in the widest, strongest rearguard possible, companies will do the minimum required under the law. Unfortunately, that means that rear underride crashes still happen. It also means that many companies won’t install side underride guards.
Side underride guards aren’t legally required
Side underride guards are large pieces of metal suspended from the size of the trailer. They prevent a vehicle from easily slipping under the trailer in the event of a traffic collision. Unfortunately, while trucks that cross into Canada may have these guards, many of the trucks that only operate in the United States do not invest in them.
They could save lives, but they also cost money and decrease fuel efficiency, so companies don’t install them. Currently, activists are working to change federal law and mandate side underride guards for the protection of people and passenger vehicles that must share the road with commercial vehicles. Similar laws have failed to gain traction in recent years.
Although the law may not change any time soon, public awareness of this kind of crash and of the importance of these guards is increasing every time one of these tragic accidents happen. The more that people stand up and take action against companies who cut corners and hurt or kill others, the less financial incentive there will be for businesses to bend or break safety rules.