Truck Underride Collisions
How many times have you driven beside a tractor trailer and realized that you could see its undercarriage from your window? If this view doesn’t make you a little nervous, it should. According to recent statistics, ¼ of the fatalities involved in trucking accidents were the victims of underride collisions. These deadly crashes occur when a passenger vehicle collides with a tractor-trailer and skids beneath it.
As attorneys who handle tractor trailer accident cases, we at Pope & Howard, P.C. are painfully aware of the tragic consequences of underride collisions. Listed below are some of the causes of underride collisions as well as the safety precautions that should be taken to prevent them.
Types of Underride Collisions
There are two types of underride collisions that can occur under conditions of low visibility:
- Side underride collisions. These collisions often occur when a truck is attempting to cross or making a U-turn, and the passenger vehicle runs beneath the tractor trailer.
- Rear underride collisions. These collisions occur when a passenger vehicle runs into the rear of a poorly marked or slow-moving tractor trailer.
Causes of Underride Collisions
Because of the sheer size of their vehicles, tractor trailer drivers often assume that other drivers on the road can see them. However, this isn’t always the case; when a tractor trailer is attempting to cross or make a U-turn at night or during low sun-angle conditions, on-coming drivers may not see the vehicle blocking their path until it is too late to stop.
In the case of an underride collision, a slow-moving tractor trailer can be more dangerous than one speeding along the highway. Slow-moving or stationary trucks often blend into the background, making it difficult for passenger drivers to spot them and react accordingly.
Preventing Underride Collisions
Due to the overwhelming number of fatalities resulting from side and rear underride collisions, safety officials are working to implement new techniques for making tractor trailers safer. Recent studies have shown that the metal bumpers found on most big rigs today aren’t strong enough, and critics such as the Underride Network are pushing for stricter standards.
According to Underride Network consultant Joe Badger, there are bumpers that are sturdy enough to protect passenger vehicles on the road. Until the federal government mandates the implementation of stronger underride guards, he asserts that trucking companies won’t make the change.
Until these changes are made, drivers of passenger vehicles will have to rely on more primitive safety measures and precautions, such as the reflective tape used on tractor trailers that helps increase visibility. However, drivers should be aware that in many cases the reflective tape found on tractor trailers is worn or dirty, creating a potentially fatal safety hazard for all vehicles on the road.
Pope & Howard, P.C. | Tractor Trailer Accidents
Pope & Howard, P.C. is an Atlanta-based law firm that specializes in tractor trailer accidents, construction site injuries, and other cases involving personal or catastrophic injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor trailer accident, call (866) 910-0642 to schedule an initial consultation.