Hundreds of people are killed every year in underride accidents with commercial trucks. In 1995, the trucking administration required that all commercial trucks be manufactured with rear guards to prevent these types of accidents from occurring so frequently. Unfortunately, these rear guards do little to prevent cars from getting caught under the rear end of large trucks.
Just two years before this regulation, all newly manufactured commercial trucks were required to come equipped with reflective tape along the rear; however, no refitting was required for pre-existing trucks. This should be shocking considering the fact that 21 percent of underride accidents occur at night time when vision is limited.
Leading Causes of Underride Accidents
Underride accidents occur when a vehicle gets caught under the rear or side of a large truck. Conspicuity, or how well an object can be seen in existing conditions, is very limited during low-light hours in regards to commercial trucks on the road. The risk of an underride accident with a semi-truck drastically increases at night.
Other issues that can lead to underride accidents:
- Broken or obscured tail / brake light due to failure to maintain
- Failure to apply the right amount of reflectors
- Sudden braking by the semi-truck driver
- Weather conditions that impact visibility
Underride Guards: Helpful or Dangerous?
Despite the presence of guards, there is little protection against underride accidents, even when vehicles are traveling at the lowest speeds. While these guards are supposed to stop cars or vehicles from getting wedged under a trailer, they often don’t actually catch all smaller vehicles.
According to the Trucking Safety Coalition, guard failures can often occur due to poor design. Currently, guards are only required on the back of commercial truck trailers. In many cases, a car isn’t crashing directly in the middle of the trailer, which means the guard would ultimately be ineffective.
It is clear that trucking regulations are not as strict as they should be when it comes to protecting other drivers. Thankfully, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took initiative by pushing forward a potential new rule in 2014 that would implement new standards for rear underride guards. In late 2015, the NHTSA proposed a new rule to have stronger guards be installed on trailers, which could reduce deaths in accidents.
Standards Could Prove Helpful—But Just for New Trucks?
While many new trucks have been updated to comply with the stricter Canadian standards that the NHTSA has proposed for a U.S. trucking law as well, there are still many older trailers that do not meet these standards.
If you were involved in an accident with a commercial truck then you should discuss your case with a truck accident attorney. You may be able to pursue compensation for your losses and / or damages. Arnold & Itkin is a firm dedicated to the rights of those who were injured in accidents caused by negligent truck drivers. We have recovered $1+ billion in the last 5 years alone. Our Houston truck accident lawyers know how to take on major trucking and insurance companies, so do not hesitate to call us today.
Start by completing a free case evaluation today.