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Commercial Truck Underride Crashes

truck underride guard pixlr

The federal government has a new plan to help prevent one type of catastrophic commercial truck accident.

Nearly 5,000 people died in commercial truck crashes in 2020, the most recent year that final data is available. That number has risen steadily over the last 10 years.

There are many causes of serous tractor-trailer accidents, with most being related to irresponsible driving behavior.  Thanks to a federal database introduced in 2020, we have evidence that a large number of commercial truck drivers have failed alcohol and drug tests.

Speeding truck drivers are dangerous. The federal government has proposed mandating that large commercial trucks have speed limiters. A fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds and traveling at 65 mph takes about the length of two football fields to come to a complete stop.

Distracted Tractor-Trailer Drivers

Truck drivers who are not paying attention can plow into stopped or slowed traffic ahead, causing catastrophic multi-vehicle wrecks.

Tractor-trailer drivers who stop suddenly because they aren’t paying attention also may cause serious wrecks involving vehicles behind them. Cars following at a safe distance may not be able to stop in time and crash into the back of trailers, which can be extremely dangerous.

Because the trailers stand so high off the road, cars can slide underneath them, seriously injuring or killing the occupants.  That is why trailers today have underride guards, which are metal bars hanging off the back end.

Stronger Truck Underride Guard Standards

Underride guards are designed to stop cars from sliding underneath a trailer, preventing catastrophic loss of life and property. But some safety experts say that today’s underride guards do not provide adequate protection and have called for stronger federal standards.

After several years of consideration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced a final rule that strengthens commercial truck underride guard standards.  The rule is to take effect January 2023.

The rule also provides for further research on mandating underride guards on the sides of commercial trailers, something safety groups have supported.  One trucking lobbying group, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), is opposed to this measure.

Trucking industry opposition to safety measures that cost trucking companies money is not unusual. OOIDA also railed against the truck speed limiter proposal.

Unfortunately, measures that protect others from truck drivers’ bad behavior, such as stronger underride guards, can only do so much, as witnessed by the thousands of victims killed in truck crashes every year. Careless truck drivers and irresponsible trucking companies remain a constant threat.

If you had a loved one killed or seriously injured in a crash with a large, commercial truck, a personal injury attorney can investigate to help determine who is responsible and hold them financially liable for the losses they’ve caused.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham.  Posted in Articles August 2, 2022.