You may think that there is very little truckers can do to prevent an underride crash. After all, the semi is often hit by the car following behind—so how can a trucking company stop the car from rear-ending a trailer?
While the fault for these truck crashes may seem to rest with the driver of the car, the truth is that many smaller vehicles become wedged under the trailers because the truck came to a sudden stop or merged in front of the car without signaling. As a result, there are many actions the trucking companies can take to prevent accidents, as well as making them less severe when they occur.
Here are three things trucking companies can do to prevent underride crashes on I-49:
- Upgrade guards – You may have seen some semis fitted with rear impact guards, or metal gates that fasten to the back of the trailer and “block off” the open space beneath it. While these grates are required on all commercial trucks, a recent study suggests that the current design is all but ineffective against underride crashes. A test performed by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crashed a 2010 Chevy Malibu into the back of a parked trailer at 35 mph. The standard U.S.-regulation guard collapsed and the car was crushed beneath the vehicle. The crash dummies in the front seats were said to have sustained blows that would have been fatal to humans.
- Implement safety precautions – Many trucking companies will ensure all rigs and trailers are “up-to-code,” meaning they have the bare minimum essentials for a journey—such as having all lights and warning signals working properly. However, some companies opt to go the extra mile, adding more than the necessary amount of reflective tape to mark the vehicle’s boundaries and cleaning exterior windows and lights more often than once per trip.
- Enforce driver behavior – Trucking companies should not knowingly hire any driver who is not authorized to operate a commercial rig. They should also put drivers through an extensive training process regardless of experience, and have a one-strike policy for drivers who use their cell phones while driving or operate their trucks under the influence of any mind-altering substance.
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