Underride accidents among the most deadly

Possibly the deadliest types of collisions involving large trucks and smaller passenger vehicles are underride accidents. These devastating wrecks usually cause catastrophic — if not fatal — injuries to the occupants of the passenger cars.

Insiders in the trucking industry all agree that underride guards would save lives and decrease the injury rates when these collisions happen. However, a consensus could not be reached among government officials, industry executives and advocates for highway safety regarding the pricing and design of the proposed lifesaving equipment.

Speaking at last year’s conference on underride crashes that was held at Virginia’s Vehicle Research Center, part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, was the National Transportation Safety Board’s director of highway safety, Robert Mollloy. He agreed that large trucks “are not in any way crash-friendly.”

What happens during an underride accident?

Underrides occur during collisions when passenger vehicles hit 18-wheelers from behind or either side, crushing the passenger compartment and causing deaths or disfiguring injuries to whoever is riding inside.

The mother of two teen daughters who died in 2013 in an underride collision also spoke at the conference. Since her daughters’ deaths she has been a vocal activist who petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to consider new standards for underride guards.

Current federal regulations mandate that trailers and other large trucks be fitted with rear guards to prevent underride deaths.

Differing opinions

Roundtable speakers differed in their opinions about whether the guards should be wrapped around semi-trailers or trucks, the cost of upgrading the fleets of trucks all over the nation and the effect of the guards’ weight on the trucks’ payloads.

Last year, the issues failed to be resolved by the disparate group of participants. Meanwhile, highway traffic fatalities caused by underride accidents continue to occur. According to data supplied by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, in the two decades between 1994 and 2014, 5,081 individuals died as a result of these types of life-threatening collisions.

If you survived an underride accident caused by another at-fault driver, or if you lost a beloved family in an underride fatality, you need to learn and understand the options available to you in your pursuit of justice.