The tractor-trailers of today do a pretty good job of keeping passenger vehicles from sliding underneath in the event of a collision. You have the underride guards to thank if you’ve ever struck the rear of a semi.
But much improvement to the devices is warranted.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in crashes involving only a small portion of the truck’s rear, most trailers fail to prevent potentially deadly underride. And that’s when your life is at risk.
Our Lake Work car accident lawyers understand that there are current standards that make sure most semitrailers have these underride guards. These underride guards are those steel bars that hang down from the rear of the trailer to help to stop your vehicle from sliding under in the event of an accident. The standards for the strength of these guards were improved in 2011. In addition to asking for tougher standards, officials also asked if these guards could be required on other types of large vehicles, including dump trucks.
But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn’t responded to the IIHS’ petition. Canada has much stronger requirements. U.S. underride guards are stronger in part because trailer manufacturers building trailers for use in North American build them in compliance with the tougher Canadian standards. And with the spotlight on these recent underride tests, some manufacturers have stepped up and strengthened their guards.
“Our tests suggest that meeting the stronger Canadian standard is a good first step, but.. it’s possible to go much further,” says David Zuby with the IIHS.
According to the latest statistics, there were more than 2,240 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in a traffic accident with large trucks in 2011. Of these fatalities, close to 300 of them were killed when the fronts of their vehicles slammed into the back of a truck. While still far too many lives lost, that is a significant decrease from the nearly 500 who were killed this way in 2004. But we can’t be so quick to credit stronger underride guards for this decline, because the number of total vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. declined during that time, too. With fewer miles traveled, we see fewer accidents.
In the state of Florida, there were more than 200 large trucks involved in fatal accidents in 2011. This accounted for close to 10 percent of the number of vehicles involved in fatal collisions throughout the entire year.
In 2011, fatalities in crashes involving large trucks increased by 2 percent from 2010. In close to 50 percent of the two-vehicle fatal crashes, both the large truck and the other vehicle were proceeding straight at the time of the crash. Many of them occurred when the passenger vehicle slammed into the rear of the truck.
Underride guard or not, it’s important that we’re never traveling too closely to these large trucks. It’s a move that could lead to a serious or fatal accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident, call today for a free and confidential review of your rights. Call 1-800-561-7777.
More Blog Entries:
Weight and Speed Often a Factor in South Florida Tractor-Trailer Accidents, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog, January 20, 2013
Trucking Accident Kills Young Driver in Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog, November 27, 2012