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Truck Accidents - Injuries from Underriding Collisions

Robert Karns

Underriding Collisions in truck accidents involving small passenger automobiles and large tractor trailer trucks result in serious personal injuries to the occupants of the automobiles.

Underriding collisions occur when an automobile goes underneath the back of a trailer or under the side of a trailer during the collision. Underriding collisions can also occur when the truck pulling the trailer rides up over the back of a passenger automobile in front of it. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2012 did a study of fatal crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles. An estimated 63% involved the front of the truck, 22% involved the side and 15% involved the rear.

Rear end underriding in truck accidents occurs when the automobile goes under the back of the trailer can be caused by the tractor trailer stopping abruptly or cutting into the lane of the automobile abruptly. When the smaller automobile goes under the trailer serious injuries occur when the automobile is destroyed getting stuck under the trailer.

Side underriding cases in truck accidents occurs when a large tractor trailer pulls out from an intersection or parking area crossing the lane of travel of the automobile causing the automobile to ride under the side of the trailer.

Front underriding cases occur when the tractor trailer rides up on the back of the automobile.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promulgated regulation 393.86 calling for rear impact guards and rear end protection. This meant that trailers and semi-trailers manufactured on or after 1/26/98 must have rear guards.

There is currently no requirement that tractor trailers must have front or side underride guards. In Europe, front underride guards and side underride guards are required.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has initiated rule making to consider new standards for rear underride guards on trailers, semi-trailers and single unit straight trucks.

One suggestion is that the rear guards on large trucks be lower as it is easy for an automobile to go under the trailer that is higher up even if it has a safety guard.

Other suggestions would include mandating side guards and front guards on large tractor trailers.

Truck drivers and trucking companies must comply with civil law regarding negligence. This means they owe a duty to use reasonable care in operating their vehicles. This means that they must have the proper safety equipment. Regardless of the standards implemented by the Federal Government requiring rear guards but not requiring side guards or front guards, the issue of negligence against the truck driver or trucking company arises if the serious injuries could have been prevented by using the proper the guards.

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