You have probably heard the term underride accident before. These truck crashes paint a harrowing picture: A car that slams into the back of a semi, becoming wedged under the trailer—and in some cases, shearing the top of the smaller vehicle clean off.
The image is enough to make you leave plenty of room when following trucks on I-49. After all, if you leave enough space to stop, there’s no way you can become lodged beneath the semi, right?
Side Impact and Rear Corners May Be More Deadly Than Typical Underride Accidents
Unfortunately, a rear-end collision is only one type of underride accident that drivers can suffer on Missouri highways. There are two other types of accidents that are likely to prove fatal for smaller vehicles, especially since they are less likely to be prevented by truck underride guards:
- Side-impact crashes – While the NHTSA requires underride guards to be placed at the back of the truck to prevent the car behind from sliding under it, there is little to no protection at the sides of the semi. Side-impact crashes may occur as a car and a semi are traveling side-by-side on the highway, or when a car fails to see a semi parked across the roadway in a construction zone. Side guards could prevent cars and motorcyclists on highways—as well as bicyclists and pedestrians on city streets—from becoming trapped underneath the sides of trucks, but there are no regulations for these guards in the U.S.
- Rear-corner crashes – Roughly half of all fatal underride accidents begin with a passenger vehicle striking one of the rear corners of the tractor-trailer. These usually occur because the car is traveling in one of the semi’s blind spots, but they are likelier to be fatal if the underride guard does not extend to the full width of the trailer. The car may strike the sharp edge of the guard or the trailer itself, becoming wedged under the semi and held there by the guard that was designed to prevent it.
No matter what the position of the car, all types of underride accidents remain a problem, particularly at night. Trucks may not have enough reflective tape along their top and sides that can help drivers identify their shape in the dark. Additionally, trucks with burned-out warning lights may go unnoticed due to maintenance problems or simple road dirt and grime may build up and conceal trailer lights until it is too late for a following car to avoid a collision.
What Should I Do If Someone in My Family Was Killed in an Underride Accident?
Trucking accidents can usually be traced back to a fault in the driver’s behavior or negligence on behalf of the trucking company--especially if someone was killed in the crash. Send us an email with the facts of your case and we can tell you how you could be able to get justice for your loved one and prevent this tragedy from happening to someone else.