Why Are So Many Underride Accidents Deadly?
When people think about truck accidents, they probably imagine head-on collisions and side-impact accidents. However, underride crashes are one of the most serious types of accidents that occur with large commercial trucks and smaller passenger vehicles.
In an underride accident, the vehicle following behind or alongside a semi-truck slides underneath the truck’s trailer. These crashes account for nearly 500 deaths every year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Underride crashes can shear off the top of the smaller vehicle, leaving occupants with catastrophic or fatal injuries.
How Do Underride Accidents Happen?
Rear underride crashes happen when the leading truck suddenly stops short, the following vehicle is tailgating, or the force of a collision behind the passenger car pushes it forward, leaving no time for that driver to swerve out of the way.
Vehicles traveling beside commercial trucks can also slide underneath them. The risk goes up when the truck’s lights are dim or dirty, making it difficult for drivers to see them at night.
Truck drivers who make illegal lane changes or fail to move with the speed of traffic make it difficult for those traveling around them to anticipate their next move. Drivers who do not know where or when a nearby truck is moving cannot respond accordingly to avoid a crash.
How Can Underride Accidents Be Prevented?
Most underride truck accidents are preventable. Truck owners and operators must be trained to prevent these crashes and ensure their rigs are as safe and visible as possible. Some ways these accidents can be prevented include:
- Underride guards: Federal regulations require most commercial trucks to have underride guards attached at the back of their trailers. These horizontal bars prevent vehicles and other objects from sliding underneath the truck. While these guards are shown to be effective, they are not currently required along the sides of commercial trucks.
- Safety lights and tape: At night or in inclement weather, it is not always easy to see commercial trucks. Evenly-spaced reflective tape and safety lights should be used to increase visibility for other motorists and pedestrians. Without these vital safety features, the risk of underride accidents goes up significantly.
- Hazard warnings: Truckers must use reflective warning triangles and hazard lights to alert oncoming drivers if their truck is parked or broken down. If not, drivers may not see they are stopped until it is too late, particularly at night, in the rain, snow, or fog.
Moving Forward After an Underride Accident: Injured Individuals May Be Eligible for Compensation
Truck accident claims are often more complex because liability can rest with multiple parties: the truck driver, their employer, the company that services and inspects the trucks, and even the city or town where the accident happened.
It all comes down to the evidence. Photos, videos, on-board technology, and eyewitnesses put the pieces together to tell the story of how and why an underride crash happened. Once liability is determined, the injured party may be able to pursue compensation for their injuries. A consultation with a skilled truck accident lawyer is the first step in the claim process.
Washington DC Truck Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Represent Clients Who Have Been Injured by Careless Truck Drivers
The impact of an underride truck accident can be physically and emotionally devastating. Our Washington DC truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King can help if you have been injured in a truck accident. Call 202-331-1963 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we serve clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.