On July 10, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a grant of petition for rulemaking to evaluate the standards of rear guards on tractor-trailer trucks. These rear guards are designed to prevent a passenger vehicle from an underride accident, however, tests have shown that industry standard approved rear guards have often failed and broke in the event of a collision. Truck accident victim advocates have long been pushing for increased standards for rear guards, and this grant is the first step.
An override usually occurs when a truck driver is unable to stop his vehicle or slow to a lower rate of speed before crashing into the back of a smaller vehicle. In this situation, the massive size of the tractor-trailer combined with the height of the front bumper and size of the truck’s front wheels can force the tractor over the top of the smaller vehicle causing massive property damage and severe injuries to the occupants of the smaller car.
These accidents are sometimes caused by error on the part of the forward vehicle. Some examples of this are:
- Pulling out in front of a truck traveling at high speeds.
- Cutting a truck off at high speeds, prior to rapid deceleration.
- Driving slowly on highways without proper lighting at night.
Although most professional commercial truck drivers are careful to drive safely and account for negligent driving by vehicles around them, sometimes the big rig is the cause of override accidents. Examples of when the truck driver causes these types of accidents include:
- Tire or brake failure of the tractor-trailer truck.
- Inattentive or fatigued driving by the truck operator.
- Tailgating, Speeding, or other aggressive driving techniques.
- Careless or reckless driving in unsafe conditions such as bad weather or poor road conditions.
The danger associated with an override accident is obvious as the massive weight of the truck becomes situated on top of the vehicle compartment. Not only are the people inside the passenger car in danger of serious injury or death, often the truck driver is severely injured due to the amount of damage sustained by the cab of the truck. These accidents can be avoided by remaining cognizant of your surroundings, keeping clear of aggressive truck drivers, and by remembering that it takes much more time and distance to stop an 80,000 pound truck, as opposed to a normal passenger vehicle.
What is an Underride Accident?
An underride accident is when a passenger vehicle rear ends a tractor-trailer and slides underneath the big rig. Victims of such accidents are often seriously injured or killed. An average of 350 people a year a killed as a result of sliding underneath a tractor tractor-trailer. In the event of an underride accident, usually the top half of the vehicle’s passenger compartment is crushed by the rear of the truck. A passenger vehicle’s front end is designed to withstand collisions head on, however, the top half of the compartment is not.
Problems with Tractor-Trailer Underride Guards
In 2011, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) performed a series of crash tests and analyses on the strength of approved underride guards, or rear guards, and found worrisome results. In analyzing the data of 1,000 crashes from 2001-2003, they found that in 115 crashes that involved the rear end of a tractor-trailer, underride was a common theme among all crashes. And in 23 of the 28 crashes where there was a fatality, severe, catastrophic underride damage was sustained.
The IIHS also performed crash tests on three underride guards that abide by U.S. standards. Two of the underride guards tested also abide by Canadien standards as well, which are known to be more stringent. In their findings, the weakest underride guard was that of the Hyundai Translead. This was the only guard out of the three tested that met just the U.S. standards, not both the U.S. and Canadian standards. In the test, Chevy Malibu struck the underride guard at 35 mph, bending the guard forward and breaking its attachment bolts, thus leading to the vehicle sliding under the tractor-trailer and crushing the top half of the passenger compartment. The other guards withstood the collision at 35 mph and did not suffer any bending or breaking. Clearly we need higher standards for underride guards in the U.S., and hopefully the newly issued grant for rulemaking to evaluate these standards will get the ball rolling.
Have you been a victim of an Underride Accident?
If you or a loved have suffered an injury from an underride accident involving a tractor-trailer, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. We have a team of truck accident attorneys based in Clearwater, Florida who have the experience and resources to represent your case. We will never represent an insurance company and will fight to hold the negligent party responsible for their actions. Catastrophic injuries are suffered from underride accidents, and we will make sure those suffering will be awarded the proper compensation for their damages.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765