Even among deadly trucking crashes, some types are more severe than others. One of the most dangerous and potentially fatal types of crashes is called a side underride crash.
Simple devices called side guards could prevent these horrific wrecks, but few trucks in the United States have them installed. Read on to learn more about this issue and find out what trucking safety advocates are doing about it.
What Is a Side Underride Crash?
When a typical passenger car collides with the side of a tractor-trailer, the car can get swept into the empty space underneath the trailer. This type of wreck is called a side underride crash, and it’s one of the deadliest situations that a driver can find themselves in on the road.
During a side underride crash, the bottom of the trailer can shear the top of the car off completely, and the car is also in danger of being crushed by the truck’s wheels. Against these extreme forces, even life-saving car features like airbags and crumple zones are essentially useless. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that more than 200 people die in side underride crashes each year.
What Are Side Guards, and Do They Really Prevent Underride Crashes?
Side guards, also known as side underride guards (SUGs), are safety devices that prevent underride crashes on a truck’s sides. These relatively simple devices work by installing a rigid barrier across the exposed space on both sides of a truck. So, instead of sliding under the truck, cars crash into the barrier. This allows most of a car’s normal safety features to kick in and drastically reduces injuries and fatalities in side underride wrecks.
Underride guards aren’t a new concept for the trucking industry. Trucking safety experts long ago identified the extreme dangers that underride crashes pose to drivers, which is why every tractor-trailer already has a rear underride guard to prevent cars from going underneath the truck during a rear-end collision. Side guards simply extend this concept to the side of the truck.
The push to install side guards on all big-rig trucks is a relatively recent movement, but there’s already data to show that it would make a real difference in terms of reducing fatalities in truck wrecks. For example, 2012 research published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention examined 206 side underride crashes that resulted in serious or fatal injuries and found that side guards could have prevented the injuries in about 75 percent of them.
Why Aren’t Side Guards Mandatory on All Trucks Yet?
Trucking safety advocates and lawmakers are currently pushing to create regulations that would require side guards on all tractor-trailers. However, as with many past trucking safety reforms and current proposals that would make highways safer, the trucking industry and its lobbying groups are pushing back against calls for universal side guards.
Most of these groups’ objections have to do with side guards’ impact on trucking companies’ short-term profits rather than on the safety of drivers. For example, the Truck Trailer Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) has repeatedly opposed measures that would mandate side underride guards, saying that the barriers aren’t cost-effective and would add too much weight to trucks.
Installing side guards on the wide range of trucks on our highways would require some technical problem-solving. But it’s also clear that these devices have the potential to stop most underride crashes and save hundreds of lives each year. Unfortunately, as long as truck companies keep prioritizing short-term profits over drivers’ safety and well-being, side underride crashes and the devastating injuries they cause will remain far too common.
If you’ve been seriously hurt or lost a loved one in a crash, especially a devastating side underride truck wreck, you should contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer for help right away. Many side underride crashes happen because of truck driver and trucking company negligence, and you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.
Contact Atkins & Markoff for Help if You’ve Been Injured in a Truck Accident in Oklahoma
After a serious truck accident, it’s important to contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer right away so they can begin investigating your case and preserving the evidence. At Atkins & Markoff, we have the resources and experience to handle complex truck crash cases. We’re here to listen to your story, and we’ll fight relentlessly to get you justice and compensation if we can take your case.
If you’ve been seriously injured or even lost a loved one in a crash involving a tractor-trailer or other large truck, contact Atkins & Markoff today by calling 405-607-8757 or filling out our quick and simple online contact form. We’ll get back to you right away. Your initial consultation is free, and we handle all personal injury cases on a “no-recovery, no-fee” basis, so you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we get you a settlement or win your case in court.
Brumbelow, M.L. (2012). Potential benefits of underride guards in large truck side crashes [Abstract]. Traffic Injury Prevention, 13(6), 592–99. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23137090
Farrow, R., McHugh, R., & Connor, T. (2017, February 17). Side underride crashes kill 200 people a year. Will Congress act? NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/side-underride-crashes-kill-200-people-year-will-congress-act-n711721
Hawes, C. (2018, January 5). Lawmakers call for guards on trucks to prevent deadly underride crashes. Trucks.com. Retrieved from https://www.trucks.com/2018/01/05/lawmakers-want-truck-guards-prevent-underride-crashes/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.