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Underride Truck Accidents

Posted on April 11, 2022 in

Accidents involving larger commercial trucks can be devastating, particularly for those inside traditional passenger vehicles on the roadway. This is especially true for accidents that are considered “underride” incidents. These types of crashes occur when a smaller vehicle on the roadway crashes into a larger commercial truck and rides up under the larger vehicle. Here, we want to discuss underride crashes, the types of injuries that are likely to occur, and liability issues involving these types of incidents.

What Are Underride Accidents?

Accidents involving larger commercial trucks are not uncommon, but perhaps one of the worst types of accidents that can occur is an underride crash. These larger vehicles sit higher off the roadway than traditional passenger cars, and this can lead to catastrophic results when a smaller passenger vehicle collides with a larger commercial truck.

When these types of collisions occur, the smaller vehicle could ride up underneath the larger truck (leading to the name underride). This can lead to a crushing or shearing off of the top of the smaller vehicle as it slides under the larger commercial truck.

As you can imagine, this type of crash action can be catastrophic for drivers and passengers inside the smaller vehicle. It is not uncommon for individuals to sustain significant injuries, including amputations, crush injuries, fractured or dislocated bones, massive bleeding, and death.

What Causes Underride Accidents?

According to the US Government Accountability Office, there are around 219 underride truck crash fatalities involving larger commercial trucks each year across the state.

Currently, this represents around 1% of all accident fatalities each year, but the GAO does admit that underride fatalities are likely underreported due to the variability in how state and local municipalities collect crash data. For example, a police officer responding to a crash in Missouri may not use the same definition of underride crash as a police officer responding to a crash in Rhode Island.

There are various causes of underride collisions on Colorado roadways. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Drivers following a commercial truck too closely
  • A truck driver coming to a sudden stop, leading to a rear-end under broad collision
  • Truck drivers failing to use turn signals when they need to turn or make a lane change
  • Truck drivers not following the proper flow of traffic
  • Trucks not pulled all the way off of the road after they breakdown, leaving part of the truck exposed to oncoming traffic
  • Mechanical failures that lead to a truck breaking down on the roadway
  • Defective lighting along the rear or sides of the truck

There are various ways to help prevent underride accidents, particularly on the part of the truck carrier. Approximately 95% of all newly manufactured truck trailers have rear underride guards installed. Currently, though, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s annual inspection does not require rearguards to be inspected, so a damaged guard could fail and lead to underride collisions.

There are various requirements for side underride guards, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not yet determined the effectiveness and cost of these guards. Many truck carriers have these side guards installed as an additional safety measure.

Safe driving on the part of truck drivers and drivers in traditional passenger vehicles is crucial. It is important to give larger trucks a wide berth along each side of the vehicle and the rear in order to prevent underride collisions from occurring.

Speak with our Denver truck accident attorneys today.