Fatal Texas Truck Accident Shows Need for Better Underride Guards

Posted By The Carlson Law Firm || 25-Oct-2012

Last month in Texas, two people lost their lives in a commercial truck accident. They rear-ended the semi-truck with enough force to slide under it, and both passengers, a man and a woman, died at the scene. The driver of the truck was uninjured.

Deaths of motorists in passenger cars are not uncommon in this kind of accident. Each year it is estimated that over 400 people die and another 5,000 are injured in trucking accidents where cars wind up under the backs of 18-wheelers.

In the majority of rear-collision accidents between large trucks and passenger vehicles, the car goes under the body of the truck. This is called underride. In a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, only 22 percent of passenger vehicles that rear-ended trucks did not go under the larger vehicles.

People in accidents that involve underride have a very high likelihood of death or serious injury because the hood of the car or the trailer of the truck can come into the passenger compartment. Even if you are in a car that has a high safety rating, your car cannot protect against this kind of accident. Semi trucks are supposed to have a part called an underride guard or rear guard to keep cars from going under them during collisions. However, many trucks have underride guards that are inadequate or, in some cases, do not have them in place at all.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performed crash tests recently to find whether underride guards that conform to current U.S. regulations could prevent underride during motor vehicle accidents. One test involved a Hyundai trailer and a Chevy Malibu driven into the rear of the trailer at 35 miles per hour. The guard sheared off, and failed to prevent the car from going under the truck. However, in test crashes with underride guards that meet the more-stringent Canadian standards, the guards held up and prevented dangerous underride.

The tests indicate a need for standards for underride guards to be strengthened. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shared their results with the NHTSA, and have petitioned for better safety regulations.

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