If you experience severe anxiety when driving your passenger car next to a tractor trailer or semi-truck on the highway, you’re not alone – and unfortunately, your fears may be justified. Truck accidents take thousands of American lives every day, with some of the most brutal and deadly accidents occurring because of “side underride” accidents.
In spite of the clear danger posed by underride accidents, there are almost no regulations on guarding the side underrides of a truck, or the massive empty space between the ground and the bottom of the tractor trailer compartment. When passenger cars collide with trucks from the side, they can often slide underneath this enclosed space, and the resulting injuries and fatalities are nothing short of devastating.
The Dangers of Truck Underride Accidents
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that half of all fatal collisions between passenger vehicles and tractor trailer trucks involve the underride portion of the truck. In 2016 alone, there were 4,440 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses, which represented a 2% increase from the previous year. This means that at minimum, hundreds of people still face death in a side underride accident every year, with many more facing catastrophic injury and paralysis.
Some of the serious risks of an underride accident can include:
- Crush Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Limb loss and Decapitation
- Partial paralysis
Pushing for Underride Guard Regulations
Ever since Hollywood icon Jayne Mansfield died in a gruesome rear underride accident in 1967, legislators had to fight the trucking industry and its legion of advocates tooth and nail to make rear underride guards a reality. In fact, it took more than 30 years for rear guards to become the law of the land after Mansfield’s death, and only after repeated proposals from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Now, many legislators are equally worried about the dangers of side underride accidents, and the lack of protections afforded to modern passenger car drivers. Although side underride guards have been shown to drastically reduce the risk of fatality, only a handful of major cities like New York require large trucks to maintain an underride guard, and these regulations only apply to city-owned fleets.
In 2017, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Marco Rubio finally proposed a bipartisan measure to Congress. Called the “Stop Underrides Act of 2017,” this legislation would mandate underride guards on all trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds. However, this measure has not been approved yet, and in the meantime, thousands of American lives may still be at risk of tragedy.
If you survived a truck underride accident, or lost a loved one to an underride crash, turn to our skilled San Jose truck accident lawyers at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP for assistance. Just call (800) 900-0863 today to schedule your free case review.