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Fatal Tractor-Trailer Crash in Georgia Shows Importance of Underride Protection

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.Underride Accidents

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.