FAQs about Underride Accidents
What Should You Know About Underride Accidents?
Underride accidents are one of the least known, yet one of the deadliest types of vehicle crashes. The following frequently asked questions help to explain what they are and why they are so dangerous.
What are underride accidents?
An underride accident occurs when a car crashes into the side or rear end of a truck and slides underneath. The momentum can force the car to slip through the gaps between the wheels. This type of collision can crush or sheer off the top of the car.
What protections exist to prevent this type of accident?
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has regulations that require a rear safety bar, called a rear guard or underride guard for tractor trailers. The purpose is to prevent this type of collision. Yet, they do not completely prevent them from happening. Safety advocates have called for upgrades for stronger underride guards for years. In 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) raised its standards for rear guards. Federal regulations require tractor trailers to have rear guards capable of withstanding an impact. For single-unit trucks, rear guards do not have design requirements for withstanding crashes. However, the FMCSA does not require inspections to check underride guards. In addition, there are no federal regulations requiring trucks to have side or front underside guards.
What factors make underside collisions so deadly?
The difference in height between some cars and 18 wheelers is what enables a car to slide underneath the truck. The impact can crush the hood and windshield. In addition, some safety features, such as airbags may not activate. Typically, injuries are severe or fatal for occupants in a car. Due to the fact truck drivers sit in elevated sits at a distance from the point of impact, they are not usually in danger.
How many people die in these types of crashes, and why aren’t people more aware of them?
According to data gathered by NHTSA, there were 400 fatalities in 2021 due to underride collisions. Between 2008 through 2017, they comprised one percent of total traffic fatalities. However, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) also found that these types of crashes often go unreported for the following reasons:
- Many states don’t include an underside category on their crash reports
- Definitions of underside accidents vary from state to state (one state requires more than 50% of the vehicle to be underneath the truck to qualify as an underride accident)
- Some state and local police authorities have limited information and training for identifying and reporting this type of crash
What factors often underlie underride collisions?
These types of accidents frequently happen during poor weather conditions such as fog, or due to speeding, tailgating, trucks slowing down or entering a road or slowly exiting a freeway.
Get Legal Help if Involved in an Underride Crash
If you suffer from a serious injury or a loved one dies in an accident, it is wise to seek legal help as soon as possible. Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging. A lawyer can help you protect your rights and ensure that an insurance company’s settlement offer is adequate to pay for your medical bills and lost wages. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney, contact us online or call (631) 547-8989
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