Underride Truck Accidents: The Danger and Risk of Fatality.

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Large truck collisions are already a major concern on the roads due to their sheer size and weight differences compared to standard passenger vehicles. Among these accidents, underride truck accidents are considered the most dangerous, notorious for causing severe injuries and accounting for 70 percent of truck accident fatalities. In this blog post, we will delve into the chilling world of underride truck accidents, shedding light on why they are so dangerous, how frequently they occur, and the common causes behind these horrific collisions. Join us as we explore the underestimated risks and tragic consequences of underride truck accidents, and what can be done to reduce their occurrence on our roads.

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1. Deadly Underride Collisions

Underride collisions are among the most lethal types of truck accidents, accounting for approximately 70 percent of truck accident fatalities. These incidents occur when a passenger vehicle slides or becomes wedged beneath a truck—either at the front, rear, or side—and often lead to the collapse of the car’s passenger compartment. The alarming consequences of underride collisions include traumatic head injuries and even decapitation. As stated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 400 lives are lost each year due to underride accidents, and over 5,000 occupants of passenger vehicles suffer severe injuries. Consequently, it’s crucial to address this pressing issue to enhance road safety for all drivers. [1][2]

2. Big Rig Heights Contribute to Risk

Big rig heights undoubtedly contribute to the increased risk of underride truck accidents. The significant difference in height between large trucks and passenger vehicles causes a dangerous mismatch during collisions. Some factors that make these accidents more perilous include:

– Taller tires: Semis typically have much taller tires than passenger cars, adding to the height difference.
– Higher cargo area: The bottom of the semi’s trailer or straight truck’s cargo area usually sits much higher than the floor of smaller vehicles on the road, creating a potentially devastating scenario during a collision.

In fact, underride collisions account for about a quarter of fatalities from truck-involved accidents. Situations where passenger vehicles collide with the trailer of a big rig often result in catastrophic injuries or even death, further emphasizing the need for better safety measures to address the height discrepancy. [3][4]

3. Causes of Underride Crashes

Underride crashes are often severe and can lead to tragic outcomes for those involved. There are several contributing factors that can cause these types of accidents to occur:

– Low visibility situations, such as nighttime or low sun angles, can make it difficult for drivers to see trucks on the road, increasing the risk of an underride collision.
– Improperly placed or insufficient lights and reflectors on trucks can also contribute to these accidents, as motorists may not recognize the truck as a potential hazard in time to react.
– Slow-moving trucks and inoperative or dim taillights can increase the likelihood of an underride accident, as other drivers may not recognize the change in speed or notice the truck braking suddenly.

Preventative measures, such as effective underride guards and improved safety regulations, can help reduce the occurrence of underride crashers and ultimately save lives. [5][6]

4. Night Blindness and Poor Lighting

The dangers of underride truck accidents become magnified during nighttime due to night blindness and poor lighting. Night blindness can make it difficult for drivers to see trailers, while inadequate lighting on the truck itself exacerbates the issue. Here are some key points to consider:

– Night blindness and poor lighting can make trailers harder to see, increasing the risk of underride collisions.
– Improper reflective gear on the truck can contribute to visibility problems, leading to potential accidents.
– According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 400 people die each year as a result of underride accidents, many of which occur due to poor visibility at night.

In conclusion, it is crucial for truck drivers and companies to ensure proper lighting and reflective materials on their trailers to minimize the risk of underride accidents during nighttime hours. [7][8]

5. Malfunctioning Brake Lights

It’s no secret that one contributing factor to underride accidents is malfunctioning brake lights on large commercial trucks. When brake lights fail to work correctly, it leaves other motorists unaware that the truck is coming to a halt, ultimately leading to devastating accidents. The malfunction may result from:

– Faulty wiring or damaged bulbs
– Poorly maintained electrical connections
– Damaged or non-functioning brake light switches

As quoted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “trucks with brake light problems are at a higher risk of causing rear-end underride accidents.” Therefore, it is crucial for truck drivers and fleet operators to perform routine inspections and maintenance of brake lights to ensure road safety for all.

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6. Inadequate Safety Guards

Inadequate truck safety guards remain a significant factor contributing to the occurrence of underride accidents. Current federal laws only require trucks to be equipped with rear underride guards, leaving many vehicles vulnerable to side impact underride accidents. Over 200 people are killed each year in such accidents, per government statistics. Additionally, many rear underride guards are often found to be too weak to withstand the impact of a collision or inadequately secured, rendering the safety feature ineffective. Ultimately, stronger and more comprehensive safety regulations could significantly reduce the danger and risk of fatality in underride truck accidents. [11][12]

7. Driver Negligence and Reckless Driving

Driver negligence and reckless driving are significant factors contributing to underride truck accidents. Some common forms of negligence among truck drivers include:

– Following too closely behind smaller vehicles, resulting in decreased braking time and higher potential for an underride accident.
– Engaging in risky behaviors such as distracted driving, which impairs reaction time and increases the chances of collisions.
– Failing to signal before attempting to back up or turn, increasing the likelihood of other vehicles sliding underneath the tractor-trailer.

These types of accidents, as mentioned, can lead to catastrophic consequences, and addressing driver negligence is crucial in preventing underride tragedies. [13][14]

8. Alarming Statistics and Fatalities

The dangers of underride truck accidents cannot be overstated, with alarming statistics revealing the high risk of fatality in such collisions. Between 2008 and 2017, an average of 219 fatalities from underride crashes involving large trucks were reported annually. Since 2010, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) states that there have been an average of 500 deaths each year from side and rear underride truck accidents. In 2018 alone, over 600 American lives were lost in these accidents. The majority of those killed are occupants of smaller passenger vehicles, who often suffer catastrophic injuries in these tragic incidents. It is critical to address this urgent issue and implement preventive measures to save lives and prevent future grim statistics. [15][16]

9. Pursuing Compensation for Injuries

Pursuing compensation for injuries sustained in underride truck accidents is crucial for victims and their families. The devastating nature of these accidents often results in severe, life-altering injuries or even fatalities:

– Underride collisions account for 25% of fatal truck accidents and can lead to severe head and upper body injuries due to the Passenger Compartment Intrusion (PCI) during the crash.
– Injured parties or the families of deceased victims have the right- and often the necessity- to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages brought upon by the accident.
– It’s critical to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in truck accidents to navigate the complexities of liability and help secure the compensation needed for recovery and rebuilding one’s life.

By taking legal action, victims can not only obtain the financial support they deserve, but also raise awareness and promote safer regulations for the trucking industry to prevent future underride accidents. [17][18]

Source: www.langdonemison.com

10. Preventing Underride Accidents with Mandates

Implementing stronger mandates around truck safety features can play a crucial role in preventing underride accidents. In December 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed new rules to upgrade Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and require more robust rear impact guards on both trailers and semitrailers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has called for similar measures for over a decade while advocating for side underride guard mandates. As these protections become mandatory, the number of fatalities and injuries resulting from underride accidents may decrease substantially. The trucking industry has an obligation to prioritize driver safety by implementing these essential safety measures. [19][20]