By: Allan M. Siegel
Tractor-trailer crashes can take many forms - from jackknife accidents
and head-on collisions to incidents involving vehicles being run off the
road with little or no contact. Aside from these common commercial truck
accidents, one of the most dangerous and overlooked types of crashes is
the underride crash.
As evidenced by a recent crash in Chatham County, Georgia, underride accidents
have an overwhelming potential to result in death. In the Georgia crash,
which occurred on Tuesday, August 4th, authorities state a pickup driver
died at the scene after colliding with the back of a tractor-trailer and
becoming pinned underneath. Authorities believe the pickup driver was
traveling too closely in heavy traffic.
Here are some quick facts about underride accidents:
Underride accidents involve passenger vehicles crashing into and continuing beneath commercial
tractor-trailers. In these types of accidents, the tops of vehicles can
be crushed or ripped off due to sheer force, placing vehicle occupants
at risk of suffering severe injuries, including traumatic brain injuries
and spinal cord injuries.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),
roughly 40% of all underride accidents involve fatalities - specifically in accidents where vehicles crash into the rear corner
of a trailer.
- Because underride accidents have such an overwhelming potential to cause
catastrophic injuries and death, there are standards in place for commercial
trucks to have underride guards, which are typically steel bars that hang
from the backs of trailers to prevent passenger vehicles from moving underneath
the truck during a crash.
Can Underride Accidents be Prevented?
Although most trucks are fitted with underride guards, there are still
concerns over whether current standards should be updated to require stronger
guards - especially after incidents like Tuesday’s fatal crash in
Georgia. Safety officials are continually conducting research in this
area to determine appropriate standards and update regulations. Just last
month, the NHTSA released an
advanced notice that is will be proposing a rule to require underride guards on single-unit
trucks, and noted its intent to upgrade requirements for all commercial trucks.
As regulators continue their investigations, there remains no doubt as
to importance of adequate underride guards. In situations where trucks
are not outfitted with appropriate guards - or where guards are defective
or improperly installed - drivers and passengers in other vehicles face
increased risks of suffering harm in underride accidents.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we encourage all motorists
to be responsible when behind the wheel, especially when following commercial
trucks. We also make ourselves available to victims and families who would
like more information about their rights following underride accidents
or any other type of tractor-trailer crash.
Contact our firm today to speak with a Washington, DC truck accident attorney lawyer during
a FREE consultation.