Rogue Magazine News Leading Causes of Delivery Truck Underride Accidents

Leading Causes of Delivery Truck Underride Accidents

Leading Causes of Delivery Truck Underride Accidents

Truck accidents are particularly likely to cause serious or fatal injuries. Within the spectrum of truck accidents, underride accidents have emerged as a particularly concerning type of collision. According to a senior research member at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a staggering 80% of rear and side crashes involving delivery trucks fall into the category of underride accidents, leading to severe or even fatal injuries.

The consequences of delivery truck underride accidents can be devastating, making it crucial to understand the leading causes behind these incidents. By identifying these causes, we can work towards implementing preventive measures and improving driver safety on our roads. If you are involved in an underride accident caused by a trucker’s negligent conduct, a truck accident attorney at The Doan Law Firm may be able to help.

What Are Underride Accidents?

An underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle crashes into the side or back of a tractor-trailer and slides underneath. The smaller vehicle is then thoroughly wedged underneath the larger vehicle, which oftentimes causes immediately catastrophic damage. These types of truck crashes are among the most fatal accidents on the road. Each year, more than 300 people are killed in underride accidents in the U.S.

The reason underride accidents are so dangerous is that the point of impact in an underride crash is typically the hood or the windshield of the smaller vehicle. Safety features such as designed crumple zones or airbags are unable to function properly, as the smaller vehicle is essentially sliced in half. Usually, the drivers and passengers in the smaller vehicles suffer critical or fatal injuries immediately upon impact. On the other hand, delivery truck drivers are often uninjured because they are positioned higher up and away from the area of impact.

What Are the Primary Types of Underride Accidents?

In most cases, underride accidents can be categorized into two different categories. There are “side underride accidents” and “rear underride accidents.”

Side underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle, collides with the side of a delivery truck and ends up sliding underneath it. The severity of these accidents is often high, leading to catastrophic injuries or death for the occupants of the small vehicle.

The main contributing factor to the severity of side underride accidents is the height difference between the smaller vehicle and the delivery truck it hit.

Side underride accidents frequently happen:

  • At night or at times when the sun is at a low angle
  • When a trucker is trying to make a U-turn, cross or turn on a street, or back across traffic

Rear underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle collides with the rear end of a delivery truck and ends up sliding underneath it. Like side underride accidents, these incidents can be particularly dangerous and result in severe injuries or fatalities for the individuals in the smaller vehicle. The primary concern in rear underride accidents is the potential for the smaller vehicle to become wedged beneath the larger vehicle, often leading to tremendous destruction.

Rear underride accidents can occur when a delivery truck is:

  • Parked on the side of the road
  • Slowing down for an intersection
  • Slowly entering a road or changing lanes
  • Exiting a highway at a relatively slow speed

Potential Causes of Underride Accidents

Underride accidents occur for many of the same reasons as other types of motor vehicle collisions. Some of the most common causes of underride accidents include:

Poor Weather

We all have seen or heard the news of multiple vehicle collisions due to snow and rain. Adverse weather conditions, such as fog, rain, or snow, can affect visibility and road traction. Reduced visibility during heavy rain, thick fog, or snowfall can affect a driver’s ability to spot obstacles on the road, increasing the likelihood of underride accidents. In such conditions, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye out for large vehicles and maintain a safe following distance.

Lack of Rear Underride Guards on a Truck

Some smaller trucks don’t have underride guards installed. Underride guards are installed to stop smaller vehicles from slipping under the truck’s rear bumper during a crash. The lack of underride guards increases the likelihood of a smaller vehicle slipping underneath the truck during a collision.

Overloaded Delivery Trucks

Overloaded delivery trucks present a serious risk on the roads, as excess weight can alter their handling and braking capabilities, potentially leading to accidents. Overloaded delivery trucks may experience an extended braking distance, making it challenging for drivers to bring their vehicles to a halt promptly.

Tactics to Prevent Underride Accidents

Preventing underride accidents is crucial for improving road safety. Here are some additional ways to prevent underride accidents:

Side Underride Guards: Consider implementing side underride guards on trucks and trailers. These guards can help prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath in the event of a side collision.

Improved Visibility on the Road: Ensure that trucks and trailers have effective and visible lighting systems, including brake lights and turn signals. Improved lighting can enhance visibility in the dark and give other drivers more time to react. Effective lighting extends beyond the rear, encompassing the sides of the truck as well. Well-lit turn signals and side markers ensure that the truck is visible from various angles, reducing the chances of side underride accidents. This is particularly important when trucks are making turns or changing lanes.

Reducing the Frequency of Preventable Underride Accidents

Underride accidents, whether from the side or rear, often stem from momentary lapses in attentiveness by both a delivery truck driver and the driver of a smaller vehicle. However, it’s crucial to recognize that underride accidents are frequently preventable through proactive driving and heightened vigilance.

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