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Why Do Truck Underride Accidents Occur?

Underride accidents involve large commercial trucks and occur when smaller passenger vehicles collide with the rear or side of the truck and subsequently slide underneath the larger truck body in the gaps between the truck wheels. These incidents are often devastating, as they can lead to a complete shearing off of the upper parts of the smaller passenger vehicle. After such a crash, it is often ideal to retain the services of a Houston truck underride accident attorney, who can help your loved ones secure fair compensation for any damages suffered. Here, we want to examine some of the main reasons why underride truck accidents occur.

Why Underride Accidents Happen

In 2021, more than 400 people died as a result of underrated crashes, according to data from Frontline and ProPublica. The data cites a GAO study that determined underride crashes represented less than 1% of all traffic fatalities from 2008 through 2017, but the agency also stated that underwrite fatalities are likely underreported.

Underride accidents can occur due to a variety of reasons. Usually, we will find that at-fault drivers are responsible for an underride collision, whether that is a negligent truck driver or a negligent driver in another vehicle on the roadway.

Some of the most common examples of truck driver or trucking company negligence that can lead to underride collisions include:

  • Damaged tail lights or other lighting along the commercial truck
  • Sudden and unwarranted braking
  • A lack of rear underride guards
  • Inappropriate lane changes

Other drivers on the roadway could also hold liability for an underride collision. For example, drivers operating too fast for conditions or following a truck too closely could hold some or total responsibility for the collision.

Underride accidents are particularly dangerous due to the mechanism of the incident. When a smaller passenger vehicle collides with a larger, taller truck, this could lead to a “shearing off” of the top of the passenger vehicle. This places the vehicle occupants in immediate and extreme danger of severe injuries or death. Some of the most common injuries caused by underride accidents include fractured or dislocated bones, spinal cord trauma, amputations, crush injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and more.

Federal Regulations for Underride Guards

Data available through the Federal Register shows that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires large commercial trucks to have rear underride guards along the back lower portion of the truck. These standards require that rear impact guards provide sufficient strength and energy absorption to protect occupants of smaller vehicles impacting rear trailers at approximately 35 mph.

Currently, the federal government does not require larger commercial trucks to have side underride guards present on their vehicles. However, many larger commercial truck agencies and independent owner-operators do have side underride guards present on their vehicles to increase the safety of drivers and passengers on the roadway.

Working With an Attorney After an Accident

If you or someone you care about has been injured in an underrated collision with a larger commercial truck in Texas, we encourage you to contact a Houston truck accident attorney immediately. You may be able to recover compensation if the negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company caused the incident. Compensation can include coverage of medical expenses arising due to the incident, lost wages you incur if you cannot work, property damage expenses, as well as pain and suffering damages.

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