The Deadly Dangers of Truck Underride Collisions

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How to Protect Yourself from Truck Collisions

Years ago, while driving the freeways around Los Angeles, the vehicle I was in and the one caravanning behind us came to a sudden stop.

We were traveling in the left lane, when suddenly a large semi truck was parked in the lane ahead of us.

With rush hour traffic picking up, we weren’t able to quickly merge to go around, and we were forced to stop as cars zipped past on our right.

This story, fortunately, has a safe and happy ending for us.  A small break in traffic allowed our two vehicles to get around the truck without getting involved in an underride collision.

For many others, however, those stories don’t end quite so peacefully.

Truck Underride Collisions Account for 25% of Fatal Truck Accidents

We know that truck accidents are often more devastating due to the sheer size difference.  How big is that difference?  Think of a 200 pound man colliding with a 9 pound baby; those are roughly the same proportions.

But one of the biggest dangers in these accidents is called a truck underride collision, where the passenger vehicle goes under the trailer on a cargo hauling semi truck.  While not as common as many of the other types of collisions, statistically truck underride collisions account for roughly a quarter of accidents involving trucks and passenger vehicles.

Dangers of Underride Collisions

Despite what the movies may show, a passenger vehicle is not able to pass underneath a semi trailer without making any contact.

Instead, when an underride collision occurs, the vehicle is generally wedged beneath the trailer (either form the side or from the rear).  Because the collision occurs at windshield level, the roof of the vehicle is often sheared off; depending on the force of the impact.

Without too many visuals, it’s easy to see how these collisions can be deadly.

How to be Safe on the Roads

We know what happens, but how do we protect ourselves on the road?  There are three things to keep in mind.

  • Watch for Stopped Trucks: When a truck is stopped on the roadway, or just off, they have reflectors, cones, and signals that should be deployed. But sometimes these are missing, or covered and unable to be seen.  Keep an eye out for stopped trucks to avoid an underride collision.
  • Be Wary of Cross Traffic: Many highways are bisected by smaller county roads. While most truckers understand the time it takes to get across the lanes safely, some may underestimate speed, or overestimate their acceleration.  If you see a truck waiting to cross, slow, and be ready to evade.
  • Trucks Utilize Deflectors: Modern semi trucks have taken measure to prevent underride collisions. A rear collision protector and side air deflectors are starting to be more common.  There are no regulations requiring these yet, but as time goes on safety will improve.

Chat with a Truck Accident Attorney after a Collision

It’s very rare that someone is involved in a truck accident and they don’t need the help of an attorney to navigate the difficult waters of liability.

If your loved one was killed in a truck accident, or if you were injured, then you need to speak with the truck accident attorneys from Herbert & Eberstein to figure out liability and how you can get compensation that covers your losses.

Call 214-414-3808 or fill out the contact form to schedule your free, no obligation, consultation.