Underride truck accidents pose a significant threat to passenger vehicle occupants, given the massive size and weight of trucks. In particular, underride accidents can be devastating, often resulting in catastrophic injuries or even fatalities for those involved. Let’s examine nature of underride truck accidents and the urgent need for improved regulations to prevent these tragedies.
Understanding Underride Truck Accidents
Underride truck accidents occur when a passenger vehicle becomes trapped underneath a truck’s trailer during a collision. The consequences are often severe, leaving the occupants of the smaller vehicle vulnerable to life-threatening injuries, regardless of who caused the accident. One specific type of underride accident that poses unique dangers is side-impact collisions. In these scenarios, a passenger vehicle may slide under the side of the truck due to sudden lane veering, distracted driving, intoxication, drowsiness, speeding, poor maintenance, brake failure, or tire blowouts.
Current Regulations for Underride Guards
In 1996, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required all commercial trucking companies to install rear underride guards, preventing passenger vehicles from sliding under the back of the truck during rear-end collisions. In 1998, these regulations were expanded to encompass all commercial trucks with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more. However, these regulations solely address rear-end underride accidents, leaving side-impact underride accidents largely unaddressed.
The Stop Underrides Act
The Stop Underrides Act aims to address the dangers posed by side-impact underride accidents. Under this act, commercial trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more would need to meet specific requirements, including:
- Strengthened rear underride truck guards.
- Installation of additional underride guards on the sides and front of commercial trucks.
- Development of side and rear guards tested to prevent a passenger vehicle traveling at 35 miles per hour from sliding under a truck’s trailer.
- Periodic inspection of underride guards, with a mandate for trucks to be placed out-of-service if guards require replacement or repair.
Challenges in Implementing Side Underride Guards
The implementation of side underride guards has faced resistance, with concerns raised about associated costs and efficacy. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has expressed that the costs outweigh the benefits, citing a report from the Department of Transportation (DOT) that suggests an estimated 17 lives could be saved, and 69 serious injuries prevented annually. However, OOIDA notes the initial cost of installing side underride guards on approximately 260,000 new trailers yearly would be substantial, reaching around $778 million.
Addressing Valid Concerns
The NHTSA is diligently seeking additional information to address valid concerns surrounding side underride guards. Factors such as potential impacts on trailer operations, wear and tear, safety inspections, fuel consumption, intermodal operations, and the costs and weight of strengthening beams and frame rails are being carefully considered.
The Consequences of Underride Truck Accidents
Underride truck accidents can lead to life-altering injuries, including amputations, broken bones, internal bleeding, nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and even fatalities. The costs associated with severe injuries can accumulate rapidly, encompassing medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and immense pain and suffering.
Protecting Your Rights
If you or a loved one has been involved in a side underride truck accident, seeking legal representation is crucial. An OnderLaw lawyer can guide you through the claims process, protect your legal rights, and pursue the compensation you deserve for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Underride truck accidents pose significant risks to road safety and can lead to catastrophic consequences for those involved. At OnderLaw, we are committed to advocating for improved regulations and safeguarding lives on the roads. The Stop Underrides Act represents a critical step towards preventing devastating side-impact underride accidents. By staying informed and working together, we can make strides in creating safer roadways for everyone. If you need legal assistance after a side underride truck accident, we are here to support you every step of the way. Your safety and well-being are our top priorities, and we stand ready to fight for the justice you deserve. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.