The American economy relies heavily on large trucks to move goods across the country. In fact, Truckinginfo.net estimates that there are 2 million semi-trucks operating on U.S roadways at any given time. This heavy volume of semi-trucks on our highways and interstates can put other motorists at greater risk of being involved in a trucking accident.
While deadly trucking accidents have been in the news lately, they are often attributed to truck driver error or trucking company negligence. Perhaps the truck driver was driving fatigued. Perhaps the trucking company failed to change the brake pads regularly. Perhaps the truck was overloaded with cargo. There are numerous reasons a trucking accident could occur – but many times, it is something that is missing on a semi-truck that could kill you. If the rear underride guard is missing or defective – it could result in a fatal trucking accident.
There are many types of trucking accidents, all of which put motorcyclists and the occupants of passenger vehicles in danger. Possibly the most dangerous type of trucking accident is the underride accident. Studies suggest that underride accidents can be blamed for as many as half of all deadly trucking accidents, which highlights the importance of rear underride guards.
What is an Underride Trucking Accident?
An underride accident happens when a vehicle is forced underneath the trailer of a semi-truck. On average, the front end of a typical passenger car is approximately 30 inches from the ground at its highest point. With the bottom of a truck trailer being 45 inches from the ground, the bed of the trailer can easily reach the cabin of the car on impact.
Underride guards must be located on the back of every trailer manufactured after 1996. When installed properly, these guards, extending beneath the trailer, are designed to prevent smaller vehicles from riding up underneath the trailer in an accident. But they do not always work. If these bars are defective or installed incorrectly, they will fail to withstand the impact of the collision and the car will be forced under the trailer. When this happens, the roof of the car can be scraped off well past the driver’s seat. This scenario can result in catastrophic injuries, and possibly fatalities.
Underride accidents can occur as the result of a collision with the rear end or the side of a truck. Side impacts are among the most common scenarios for underride accidents. They often result from a truck executing a U-turn or attempting to back out into heavy traffic. Underride guards have no impact in a side collision.
An experiment conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested the effectiveness of underride guards. In the experiment, a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, a mid-sized car, was driven into the back of a parked 18-wheeler at just 35 mph. Immediately, on impact, the underride guard failed and the Malibu slid directly underneath the truck. According to the IIHS, any occupants in the vehicle would have been killed.
Rear end accidents with a tractor trailer might seem like they would be easy to avoid. Psychologists, however, have determined that the angle of average headlight beams in relation to a driver’s line of sight make it difficult to see a tractor’s trailer until it is too late. Inadequately lit roads exacerbate this problem at night.
Help for Your Underride Accidents
Those who have been injured or lost loved a loved in an underride trucking accident should speak with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Because these accidents can be caused by several forms of negligence, victims could be eligible for compensation for their losses.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident in Denver, Aurora, Boulder, or anywhere in the State of Colorado, it is important to speak to a trucking accident lawyer immediately. Trucking companies often have large legal teams on their side to protect their assets and reduce their liabilities. They will try anything to prevent paying you and your family what you deserve. Contact Gregory A. Gold of the Gold Law Firm today for a free consultation at (303) 694-4653. We have extensive experience fighting large trucking companies – and we have the resources needed to win your case.