Because commercial trucks are so much larger than the average passenger car, accidents between the two can be devastating to car drivers and passengers.
One of the worst types of accidents is the underride accident, where a passenger vehicle goes underneath a truck’s trailer. The United States Government Accountability Office reports that from 2007 through 2017, approximately 219 fatalities per year involved underride crashes between cars and large trucks.
Causes of underride accidents
Some causes of underride accidents include:
- Trucks that lack brake lights or taillights
- Distracted drivers and truckers
- Dirty or missing reflective tape on truck trailers
- Broken, damaged or weak rear underride guards
- Lack of side underride guards
Stronger rear underride guards
Underride guards attached to the back of tractor-trailers should stop passenger cars from going underneath a truck during a rear-end crash. However, the original standards do not require guards to be strong enough in many situations. Not only that, but some companies also keep their tractor-trailers in service with damaged guards.
Not all companies ignore the dangers, though. Many manufacturers and companies have guards that exceed current standards for strength. Industry and government initiatives for changes such as higher minimum insurance limits may prompt less proactive trucking companies to improve underride guards.
Addition of side underride guards
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, experts believe that adding side guards between the wheels of trailers will prevent fatalities each year. These aerodynamic panels attached below the trailer can catch a passenger vehicle and activate its crumple zones and airbags so that it does not slide under the trailer and decapitate the passengers. Meanwhile, the safety features keep passengers from suffering other serious injuries, often allowing them to walk away from the accident.