Driving any vehicle incurs some risk of a collision or crash. Driving in close proximity to commercial vehicles, such as eighteen-wheelers and semi-trucks, however, can increase that risk. The rate of serious collisions with commercial trucks has been on the rise in recent years. Most people on the road know that commercial vehicles demand a wide berth for safety reasons. Commercial trucks make wide turns, have massive blind spots and take longer to come to a stop.
Driving directly behind, in front of or to the right of a commercial vehicle could prove dangerous in the wrong conditions. There is always the risk that the driver won't see you before completing a turn or merging into your lane. You also increase the risk of experiencing a potentially fatal underride crash.
What is an underride crash?
As the name implies, an underride crash happens when a smaller vehicle ends up underneath a larger commercial vehicle. There are three main kinds of underride collisions. A frontal underride happens when a commercial vehicle hits the rear end of a passenger vehicle, going up and over the top. A rear underride collision happens when a passenger vehicle hits the back of a commercial truck and ends up under the rear axle of the trailer.
A side underride collision happens when a passenger vehicle slips under the center of a trailer. The results can include the removal of the top of the vehicle or crushing under either set of tires. Many underride collisions are fatal. They result in catastrophic injuries and often the complete destruction of the smaller vehicle involved.
Truck companies could prevent most of these crashes
While traffic collisions are simply a fact of motor vehicle travel, underride collisions do not need to be. There are already guards available that protect the side and rear sections of commercial vehicles, preventing the majority of underride collisions. Unfortunately, many companies simply choose not to invest sufficiently in these life-saving devices.
Federal law mandates the use of a rear underride guard. These metal bars help prevent vehicles from passing underneath the rear tires of trucks. Sadly, many companies only purchase the bare minimum guard required by law. Investing just a little more money in a strong and wide guard could do more to reduce the risk to passenger vehicles.
Similarly, side underride guards already exist. In fact, the law mandates them for any commercial vehicles that operate in Canada as well as the United States. Currently, however, there is no requirement for these devices in the United States. Companies choose not to install them as a means of saving a little bit of money. People who have sustained injuries or lost a loved one in an underride collision that could have been prevented with a proper guard should look into their legal options carefully.