Even if you’ve never heard the term “underride,” you can probably imagine what it means in the context of tractor-trailer accidents. Picture the height of your car compared to the bottom of the truck right in front of you on the highway. If that truck slams on the brakes and you’re not able to stop in time, your car will slide under the back of the truck, with understandably devastating and gruesome consequences.
Underride is not only a danger for the back of big-rigs, but underride accidents can happen on the sides of trailers as well, such as when a truck jack-knifes. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHSTA) estimates that approximately four percent of all fatal tractor-trailer accidents involve passenger vehicle underride.
Underride accidents can happen for a number of reasons, including:
- Poor visibility
- Truck driver negligence when changing lanes or braking
- Defective rear underride guards
- Multicar pileups that push a car into the back of a big-rig
While federal regulations require that almost all commercial trucks have rear underride guards and reflective equipment, they aren’t currently required on “single unit trucks,” (SUTs), which are trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds with no trailer.
Given that an underride accident with an SUT can be just as horrific as one with an 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer, the lack of protective guards and reflective material doesn’t make sense. The NHSTA agrees, which is why they are in the process of writing new regulations that would require rear impact guards and reflective tape on the side and rear of all new SUTs.
The NHTSA estimates that a requirement for rear impact guards on single unit trucks (SUTs) could save five lives and prevent 30 injuries each year, while reflective tape on SUTs could save up to 14 lives per year.
Dallas trucking accident attorney Robert Greening or Greening Law, P.C. knows how devastating a tractor-trailer accident can be and has extensive experience and a track record of success obtaining compensation for those who have been injured or lost a loved one in a big rig accident. Please call us at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.