Truck Underride Accidents

When a passenger vehicle hits the back or side of a large truck or tractor-trailer so that the car travels underneath the body of the truck, it is called an “underride” accident. Truck underride accidents occur because:

  1. The truck lacks a guard to prevent these types of accidents.
  2. The truck has a poorly designed guard that provides inadequate protection.
  3. Reflective tape and/or reflectors are missing or obscured by dirt.

The Need for Guards on Trucks and Tractor-Trailers

Underride accidents account for nearly half of the fatalities in accidents between passenger cars and tractor trailers, including most famously the 1967 death of blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield. There is approximately 15 inch differential between the height of the undercarriage of a car and that of a truck. Because of this, when the passenger vehicle slams beneath a truck with no guard or a defective guard, its driver/passenger compartment is smashed as the roof and windshield are either sheared off or crushed.

Close to 40 percent of underride accidents occur at the rear corners of tractor trailer, warranting extra vertical support at the corners of the guard to prevent the guard's horizontal bar from being broken off on impact. These supports would also facilitate the deflection of an oncoming car and hopefully prevent the passenger compartment and car roof from being destroyed by the rear of trucks and trailers.

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates rear impact guards for all trucks and trailers manufactured after 1998, the agency has no requirement that trucks manufactured earlier than this be retrofitted. Despite the law, any company which operates older trucks without sufficient safeguards is negligently putting you and your family at risk.

Reflective Tape or Reflectors

Since March 1999, the FMCSA has required all trailers on heavy trucks be equipped with either reflective tape or reflectors. These devices can prevent accidents, and drivers are supposed to make sure that the reflectors are clearly visible, but when a fatigued driver is attempting to keep an unrealistic schedule, these reflectors can be neglected. A dirt- or mud-covered reflective device or one that is broken is useless and leads to unsafe driving for passenger vehicles.

Few traffic accidents create worse mutilation of the human body than a truck underride accident disaster, but human tragedy is often not the concern of trucking companies or the government. The only one prepared to look out for you in the wake of such an event is a trucking accident lawyer. The team at Michael J. O'Connor & Associates is ready to begin tackling your trucking accident case today. Email or call our toll-free number 1.800.518.4LAW for a free consultation and case review.

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