Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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Avoiding underride accidents

One of the most horrific scenarios that can happen to a motorist is to disappear under a semi-truck trailer in a scenario known as an underride accident. The trailer platforms are usually high off the ground so unless your vehicle is also particularly high, it is perfectly feasible.

It could happen if a truck suddenly brakes in front of you. Perhaps their brake lights were not working, or they were distracted and left it late to brake. It can also happen if the truck turns across your path causing you to drive under the side. Perhaps they did not check it was safe to turn. Maybe they failed to use their turn signals or they were broken.

Leaving a suitable gap when driving around semi-trucks and staying alert reduces the chance you get caught up underneath one, but you cannot foresee all scenarios. This is why other preventive measures are so important.

Underride guards

The law requires most semi-trucks to have underride guards on the rear of their trailer. Provided they are adequately built and maintained they can go a long way to preventing rear-end underride collisions. They do nothing to stop underride collisions from the side, though.

The government commissioned a cost-benefit analysis of making side underride protection mandatory. However, the Insurance Institute for Highways Safety is unhappy about the results the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration produced. They believe it vastly underrated the number of lives that could be saved, therefore skewing the cost-benefit analysis to make the option seem less favorable.

While any vehicle modification will have a cost, a serious injury or loss of life will have a much greater one. Trucking companies are free to install side underride guards if they wish and some do. If you are injured or lose a loved one in an underride accident it’s worth considering what, if anything the trucking company did to prevent such tragedies, as well as examining what the truck driver may have done wrong to cause it.

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