Because of their heavy weight and high ground clearance, semitrailers can cause significant damage when they are involved in car crashes. Underriding accidents are one particularly devastating type of crash involving semitrailers. In this type of crash, a passenger vehicle ends up partially or completely under a semitrailer, which increases the likelihood of death or serious injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
How underriding occurs
Over half of underriding accidents involve a passenger vehicle going under the front of a semitrailer. This could happen if a truck driver is following too closely behind the car, if a car in front of the semitrailer slams on its breaks or if the brakes in the semitrailer fail.
Many other underriding accidents occur when a passenger vehicle ends up under the back of the semitrailer. This usually occurs when the car is following too closely behind a semitrailer and it slides or gets pushed under the semitrailer.
Although less common, sometimes passenger vehicles underride the side of a semitrailer. This could occur if the truck driver changes lanes abruptly or if the semitrailer creates a wind gust that pulls a lightweight vehicle under it.
How underriding accidents can be prevented
Semitrailers should have underride guards installed to prevent cars from going under the back of the trailer. However, these guards can break off during a crash, and there is no requirement for front or side underride guards.
Because underride guards cannot completely prevent underriding accidents, truckers and other drivers should practice safe driving habits to prevent as many underriding accidents as possible. As a driver of a passenger vehicle, you can avoid underriding a semitrailer by giving semitrailers plenty of space to maneuver and staying out of their blind spots. You should also be careful not to cut off a semitrailer or brake abruptly when you are in front of one.
Underriding accidents are some of the most severe crashes between passenger vehicles and semitrailers, and the results are often fatal. If you have a loved one who died or was severely injured in an underriding accident caused by the negligent actions of a truck driver, it may be appropriate to take legal action.