The Dangers of Underride Accidents

Any accident involving a large commercial truck can be a massive and devastating crash. Underride accidents cause some of the worst injuries. Decapitation is the biggest danger in an underride accident. Although there is no way to completely prevent all truck accidents, underride can be prevented with adequate safety equipment installed on big rigs. Rear underride guards are required in the U.S., and the current standards have been in place for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, underride guards that meet the minimum requirements do not provide adequate protection from many underride accidents.

What does Underride mean?

Underride happens when a car slides under the trailer of a big rig. All of the force goes to the upper portion of the car, where there is virtually no protection for occupants. In a normal crash the engine compartment or other lower and sturdier portions of a car take the brunt of the impact. In underride, the truck can come in direct physical contact with occupants of the car.

The results of underride can be catastrophic and include decapitation and dismemberment.

The majority of underride accidents are rear-end accidents, but underride can occur in side swipe accidents and when a car T-bones a truck.

Existing Underride Guards are Inadequate

In March, 2013, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS) announced the results of its most recent evaluation of improved underride guards. In a previous test the guards performed well when hit dead-center by a car, but if the car was off to the side a bit, the results were poor. It tested with a 50% overlap and a 30% overlap. The guards performed the worst when there was only a 30% overlap. All of the guards tested met U.S. requirements.

After manufacturers upgraded their underride guards to meet the higher Canadian standards, IIHS tested underride guards from eight manufacturers. Only one passed the 30% overlap test.

It would not be very expensive for tractor trailer manufacturers to install safer underride guards. It is time the manufacturers and the trucking industry put safety ahead of profits.

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