When a passenger vehicle collides with the rear of a tractor-trailer, it is called an underride accident. The end result of these accidents are usually fatal. One safety requirement that was supposed to reduce these fatalities is an underride guard. These are the steel bars that you see hanging from the back of trailers. However, these guards often fail to prevent the front of passenger vehicles from sliding under the tractor trailer, even when the collisions occur at lower speeds.
In fact, crash tests demonstrated that underride guards on most tractor trailer rigs left occupants in passenger vehicles at risk. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the minimum strength and dimensions that were required for underride guards have been found to be inadequate. The Institute petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to toughen the standards for underride guards in 2011. In addition, the Institute requested that dump trucks and other large trucks be required to be equipped with underride guards.
In crash tests, 2010 Chevy Malibus were used, driving at 35 mph. In one test, testers aimed the car at the midpoint of the back of the trailer. All of the eight guards that were used successfully prevented the passenger cars from going underneath the tractor trailer. In the second crash test, in which half of the width of the car overlapped with the back of the trailer, only one trailer prevented the car from going under the trailer. Even when the overlap was reduced to only 30 percent, all but one guard failed.
Why Underrides Are So Dangerous
When the front end of a passenger vehicle ends up under the trailer of a truck, the structures that are designed to absorb the energy of the crash are bypassed. This results in the top of the passenger car compartment getting crushed. Safety mechanisms such as the airbags and the seatbelts cannot do their jobs appropriately when this happens, and the people inside of the passenger car often experience head and neck injuries that are life-threatening. Obviously, there is still work to do in making these underride guards more effective in saving lives.
Let Us Help You
If you have been injured in an accident in which the underride guard did not work effectively, contact an Oklahoma car accident lawyer who will fight for your right to compensation. Contact or call 405-232-7980 to reach the Law Offices of Robert R. Robles, in Oklahoma City, so we can discuss what we can do for you during our free consultation.