When it comes to your risk of being involved in a motor-vehicle collision, few scenarios are likely to be as injurious or deadly as a collision with a tractor-trailer. This is particularly true when a passenger vehicle, bicyclist or pedestrian ends up underneath a large commercial truck or trailer.
Experienced truck accident attorneys in Texas know the roads have gotten significantly more dangerous as the economy has recovered. As we reported last month, that trend continued in 2016, and road deaths are expected to rise again when final numbers for 2017 are released.
Underride Trucking Accidents Often Deadly
Motorists have little chance of escaping serious injury as a result of a truck accident in Laredo. But those who pass beneath a commercial truck are most likely to be killed.
The government has long recognized the risks, and as a result, they have mandated that trailers be equipped with rear underride guards, which are designed to keep a car from passing beneath the truck in the event of a rear-end collision. While rear underride guards have gotten safer over time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety continues to find safety issues with guard failure involving a number of models.
However, long ignored have been the risks of passing beneath the sides of a semi, which usually occurs as a truck makes a wide turn and can also involve bicyclists or pedestrians. Last year, IIHS began testing such side guards on trailers and found that they substantially reduce the risks.
Side Guards Reduce Bicycle and Pedestrian Risks Involving Large Trucks
The agency reports that 1 in 5 fatal collisions with tractor-trailers involve vehicles that strike the side of a rig. Such accidents claim more than 300 motor vehicle driver and passenger lives each year. Additionally, another 100 bicyclists and pedestrians are killed after falling beneath the side of a tractor-trailer.
"Our tests and research show that side underride guards have the potential to save lives," says David Zuby, the Institute's executive vice president. "We think a mandate for side underride guards on large trucks has merit, especially as crash deaths continue to rise on our roads."
Trailer Talk, a column geared toward professional truck drivers, recently reported efforts to force trucking companies to install such guards on commercial trucks nationwide. Fleet Management reported in December that several members of Congress introduced the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, which would require both rear and side underride guards.
But just like other efforts aimed at improving motorist safety, such as electronic log books and speed limiters, there is opposition within the industry, primarily over cost of installation and weight, which can impact fuel costs. Still, the United States is significantly behind on the issue. Side guards have been required in the European Union and Japan since the 1980s, and regulations requiring them have passed more recently in China and South America.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an underride accident with a large truck, you should seek the legal advocacy of an experienced attorney.