A federal government report has called the Department of Transportation (DOT) to do more to research and prevent truck underride accidents. This report comes out shortly after lawmakers introduced a piece of legislation to require truck manufacturers to include rear, side and front guards to their vehicles. The legislation, titled Stop Underrides Act, is currently under consideration.

What are truck underride accidents? This specific type of crash occurs when a smaller vehicle goes underneath the back of a semi-truck. These accidents are often catastrophic for the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle.

What could the DOT do to reduce underride accidents? The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), the agency responsible for the report, has called on the DOT to have a clear definition of “underride accident” to aid in proper reporting. This will allow more accurate data and better research into the extent of the impact of these accidents.

The GAO also called on the DOT to establish annual inspection requirements to better ensure trucks have proper guards to reduce the risk of vehicles crashing underneath large semi-trailers.

How serious are these accidents? The report notes that approximately 219 individuals die from underride accidents every year. Researchers with the report also state this number is likely a low estimate as the accidents are often improperly logged by law enforcement who respond to the scene of the crash. As noted above, part of the difficulty due to the fact the government has not supported a consistent definition for “underride accidents.”

The true impact of these accidents is likely much larger.

How did the DOT respond to the report? The agency has stated it will take additional action to help address the public health risk of underride accidents.

What about victims of underride accidents? Legal remedies may be available. An attorney experienced with truck accidents can review the details of your case and discuss your options.