Noble McIntyre on March 29, 2016
An underride accident is when a passenger vehicle crashes into the rear or a tractor-trailer, and the result is often fatal. Although tractor-trailers are required to be equipped with underride guards, these often fail, even in low-speed crashes. When a passenger vehicle crashes into the rear of a tractor-trailer, the upper part of the passenger compartment can be crushed because the body of the truck has such an impact on the vehicle safety cage.
In 2011, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a test in which it crashed a Chevy Malibu traveling 35 miles per hour into the rear of a parked trailer. Even at that low speed, the guard—which was in compliance with the federal government standard—failed and the vehicle was crushed. Analysts said that if there had been people in the front seats instead of crash test dummies, they would have been killed. Therefore, several groups have begun to advocate for additional standards for stronger underride guards. The technology exists—Canada requires that rear impact barriers are 75 percent stronger than they are required to be in the United States. And, it works. When the same test was performed using a truck equipped with a crash guard that met the Canadian standard, the test vehicle fared much better.
Last summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made an announcement that it was proposing rules that would upgrade the standards for truck and trailer underride protection. The agency would gather information from the public and from stakeholders about the estimated costs and benefits to making the proposed changes. The changes include both guards that would provide underride protection and reflective material designed to make the vehicles easier for other motorists to see.
Although a federal regulation that requires stronger underride guards is not yet approved, some trucking companies are making it their mission to fit their trucks with the stronger, safer guards, regardless. For example, J.B Hunt Transport Services, Inc. announced this week that it ordered 4,000 Wabash National DuraPlate® dry van trailers that include RIG-16 Rear Underride Guard Systems. This reduces the risk of injury or death of front-seat passenger vehicle occupants.
There are a lot of ways that trucking accidents occur. Of course, some are caused by truckers, by faulty equipment or for other reasons, and others are caused by the drivers of passenger vehicles. While regulations and safety upgrades are important to everyone’s well-being on the roads, the best way to stay safe is to be alert, follow road rules, avoid distracted driving and never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you do find that you’ve been injured in a trucking accident, there are options. McIntyre Law offers a free consultation to anyone who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, or who has lost a loved one. Our team of expert motor vehicle accident attorneys is on hand to advise you as to the best way for you to recover damages from a loss. Call us today to set up your free consultation.