When a passenger vehicle and large truck collide, the results can be deadly. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2009:
- 3,163 people died in vehicle accidents involving large trucks
- 70 percent of those deaths were passenger vehicle occupants
- Passenger vehicle occupants accounted for 98 percent of the deaths in two-vehicle crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle
What makes truck accidents so dangerous is the potential for underride, when a passenger vehicle slides underneath a large truck. Victims of underride collisions may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An experienced South Carolina injury attorney can help them get it.
Why Are Underride Collisions So Dangerous?
When underride occurs, the roof of the passenger vehicle can be crushed or sheared off, which can result in serious injuries to the vehicle occupants, including brain injuries, or even decapitation. Unfortunately, even passenger vehicles with the best crash ratings can do little to protect occupants from serious injury or death in the event of an underride collision.
According to IIHS President Adrian Lund, “Hitting the back of a large truck is a game changer. You might be riding in a vehicle that earns top marks in frontal crash tests, but if the truck’s underride guard fails — or isn’t there at all — your chances of walking away from even a relatively low-speed crash aren’t good.” Put simply, underride guards can make the difference between an occupant in the passenger vehicle living or dying.
Underride Guards Often Fail
The IIHS has been researching underride collisions for 30 years, and just last year, it petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for improved underride guard regulations. Underride guards are long pieces of steel attached to the front, side and/or rear of a large truck that are designed to block passenger vehicles from passing underneath the truck in the event of a crash. The United States has regulations in place for rear underride guards, while the European Union requires front, side and rear guards. According to the IIHS, current U.S. regulations are insufficient.
Based on the results of simulated crash tests and an analysis of real-world crash data, the IIHS has concluded that rear underride guards often fail in crashes, even at speeds as low as 35 miles per hour. Therefore, the IIHS has asked the NHTSA to revise its underride guard regulations to:
- Minimize exemptions so that more trailers are required to have underride guards
- Require guards to be stronger so that they will remain in place during a crash
- No longer allow guard components to be tested separately, instead requiring the entire guard system to be tested as a whole and attached to the trailer
- Determine whether rear guards should be lowered
It is estimated that more than 400 people die in underride collisions in the U.S. each year. If you have sustained serious injuries in a truck accident, or if an underride collision caused your loved one’s wrongful death, contact a qualified South Carolina injury lawyer today to learn about your legal rights.