The structure of an 18-wheeler truck makes accidents happen differently than standard vehicle collisions. What might have been a regular rear-end collision with two passenger vehicles, for example, could take the form of an underride or override truck accident. These are two of the deadliest types of truck accidents for passenger vehicle occupants. Understanding the dynamics of an underride accident could allow you to prevent these fatal collisions in the future.
What Is an Underride Accident?
When a small passenger vehicle slams into the back of a semi and slides beneath the trailer, it is an underride accident. In this type of accident, the smaller vehicle generally does not stop its forward motion until the bed of the trailer contacts the highest part of the car – the cab. The trailer of the truck can kill vehicle occupants in underride accidents. Common fatal injuries are traumatic brain injuries and decapitation. If occupants survive, they may suffer disabilities from catastrophic injuries.
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic amputation
- Permanent disfigurement
Serious underride accidents could cost thousands of dollars in medical bills, vehicle damage and lost shifts at work. Depending on the cause of the collision, you could be eligible for financial recovery through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Recovering compensation for a catastrophic truck accident could help you move forward. Holding a truck company accountable for underride accidents could help improve the safety of trailer designs in the future.
Underride vs. Override Accidents
Although the two terms are often used together, an underride accident is not the same as an override accident. In an underride accident, a passenger car rear-ends a truck. In an override accident, the truck rear-ends a passenger car. If an override accident occurs, the commercial truck rolls up and over the back of the smaller car. Override accidents can crush the smaller car and its occupants. These collisions are usually fatal for passenger car occupants.
Which Cars Are Most at Risk?
Passenger cars that are low to the ground are most at risk of getting into underride accidents. The average trailer rests a few feet off the ground. A vehicle with a low front could slide beneath the bed of the trailer rather than colliding into its back. Sports cars and small economy vehicles are most likely to get into fatal underride truck accidents. Larger vehicles, such as SUVs and pickup trucks, are more likely to crash into the bed of the truck than wedge beneath the trailer.
How To Prevent an Underride Truck Accident
Vehicle manufacturers and safety organizations are working on solutions to underride accidents. The Code of Federal Regulations already requires rear impact guards on most trailers. All trailers and semitrailers manufactured after January 26, 1998, weighing 10,000 pounds or more must have rear impact guards, or underride bars, to help prevent accidents. New and improved underride guards are currently in development with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As a driver, do not solely depend on rear impact guards to prevent underride accidents. Take proactive steps to reduce your risk of rear-ending a commercial truck. Always keep a safe following distance of at least 30 feet behind the commercial truck. This will keep you out of the truck’s blind spots and give you ample room to come to a stop. Do not tailgate or speed when driving near tractor-trailers. Prepare to stop at any time behind a commercial truck.
Dedicate your attention to the road. Do not text or look down at your cellphone while driving. Distracted driving could make it easy to miss a stopped truck in front of you. Drowsy driving and drunk driving could also cause underride accidents. Any negligent or reckless behavior that could impact your driving abilities could lead to a deadly rear-end collision or underride accident in Omaha. Practice safe driving to reduce your risk.