Better Underride Guards Are Needed to Prevent Truck Accident DeathsNovember 10, 2015 | Category: Truck Accidents | Share
Although only four percent of vehicles on the road are trucks, large trucks account for 11 percent of bicycle crash deaths nationwide, according to the Legal Examiner. Trucks also account for a large portion of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving people in passenger cars.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that, of the 3,163 people killed in truck collisions in 2009, 70 percent of the victims were in other vehicles and not the truck. One reason trucks cause so many biker and auto passenger fatalities is that trucks are built differently than other motor vehicles. Because trucks are higher, there is a significant chance a bicycle rider or a driver could become caught underneath the body of the truck when a crash happens.
Truck drivers need to be aware of the risks to others on the road and must aim to prevent crashes through careful driving whenever it is possible for them to do so. If they fail to exercise caution and their negligence results in a crash, Randall Spivey, a Ft. Myers personal injury lawyer, is prepared to help victims recover monetary compensation from the trucker, the trucker's employer and any other individual or entity that may be legally responsible.
When crashes happen, it is also important to try to mitigate the potential threat to health and safety. That said, one of the most powerful, effective, and simple types of technology aimed at reducing truck crash risks is underride guards.
Better Underride Guards Can Help
Underride guards are steel bars affixed to the bottom of a tractor trailer to prevent a vehicle from sliding underneath the truck when a motor vehicle accident occurs. The IIHS describes underride guards as “the main countermeasure for reducing underride deaths and injuries when a passenger vehicle crashes into the back of a tractor-trailer.”
Without safe and effective underride guards, the upper part of a vehicle's occupant compartment can be crushed when a car slides underneath the truck and the body of the truck intrudes into the car's safety cage.
Unfortunately, underride guards are not working as well as they should. In a recent study conducted by IIHS, underride-related incidents were very common when a passenger car hit the back of a large truck or semi-trailer. In fact, only 22 percent of the crashes reviewed by IIHS did not involve the car sliding under the truck or involved only very minimal underride contact.
An IIHS crash test also revealed that underride guards frequently ended up bending forward, shearing attachment bolts and breaking after cars struck the guards at a speed of just 35 MPH. While some underride guards performed better than others, many were too weak and failed to prevent cars from going under the trucks.
Underride guards were particularly ineffective when a car hit the trailer with only part of the front of the vehicle, rather than hitting the truck head-on in the middle. Most crash tests with vehicles striking the side back of a truck revealed that the underride guards allowed “severe” underride accidents. Even with the best underride guard included in the test, approximately half of the rear of the truck was extremely vulnerable to “severe” underride incidents.
Underride guards need to be improved so that they are more effective at preventing crashes likely to cause crushing injuries, decapitation and death. Adding side underride guards in addition to rear underride guards is also suggested by Legal Examiner as a life-saving method that would be particularly beneficial for bike riders.
Unless and until changes are made, bicycle riders and other motorists continue to be at significant risk. If you or someone you love is hurt, don't hesitate to get legal help. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help truck crash victims make a claim to obtain monetary damages for losses. Call the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. today to learn more.