Do Truck Underride Guards Prevent Injuries?
Commercial truck accidents always have the potential to be dangerous due to the sheer size and weight of semi-trucks in relations to smaller passenger vehicles. Due to the severe threat of injury to motorists in truck accidents, trucks have been designed in recent years to try to protect motorists as much as possible in the event of a collision. While such safety features often succeed in preventing injuries, not even the safest design features can prevent all injury in truck accidents, especially in underride accident.
A truck underride accident is one of the most dangerous types of commercial truck accidents. This type of collision occurs when a small passenger vehicle, such as a sedan, runs into the back of a commercial truck. Because of the relatively high clearance under a truck trailer and the low clearance of a passenger vehicle, vehicles can become wedged under the back bumper of a trailer. This can cause the car to be dragged until the truck stops. At times, a car may drive so far underneath the back of a truck that the bumper breaks through the windshield. As you can imagine, this type of accident can cause severe and often fatal injuries.
Underride accidents commonly happen due to negligence on the part of a truck driver or trucking company, even if the driver of the smaller car is the one who collides with the truck. Some negligent acts that can lead to underride accidents may include the following:
- Sudden stopping or braking because of fatigued, impaired, or distracted driving
- Not having adequate reflectors or other markings required by the FMCSA for trailer visibility
- Having tail lights or brake lights that are not properly functioning
In such situations, any injured motorists have the right to hold the negligent driver or party legally responsible for their losses.
Underride guards: do they help?
In response to the substantial danger of an underride accident, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) started requiring that all new truck have underride guards. These guards go along the back of a truck under the rear bumper of the trailer in order to prevent small vehicles from driving under the trailer and getting wedged. While underride guards have helped protect motorists in many situations, in other scenarios, motorists can still get stuck under the back of truck.
The Truck Safety Coalition reports that the design of the current underride guards is inadequate to fully protect motorists from getting stuck under the back of a truck. This is because, in order to comply with FMCSA standards, these guards must only run along the very back of the trailer. Unfortunately, many drivers do not collide directly into the back of the trailer, but instead hit the trailer at an angle.
If a driver notices that a collision is about to occur, instinct often causes a sudden jerk of the wheel or swerving to on side in an attempt to stop the collision. This swerving or turning, however, often results in the driver colliding into the lower rear corner of the trailer at an angle. Current underride guards do not cover the corner or sides of the trailer, so collisions involving these parts of the trailer still often result in a car driving under the truck, which can cause life-threatening injuries. In response to recent research regarding the inadequacy of underride guards, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made an announcement that new requirements may be issued for a safer design of these guards in order to provide maximum protection for motorists in all types of underride accidents.
No matter what type of truck accident occurs, any motorists involved have the potential to sustain severe injuries. If a truck’s safety equipment is not in compliance with federal regulations or if a truck driver acts negligently, victims deserve to recover for their losses. If you have been involved in a truck accident, call the Dolman Law Group in Clearwater, Florida for assistance at 727-451-6900 today. We offer free consultations and always strive for the best results in every case.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756