Underride accidents are a type of accident that occurs only with large trucks. Our Highland truck accident attorneys have discussed the dangers of underride accidents in the past, in response to an Indiana Tractor Trailer accident in which a 56-year-old Indiana man sustained injuries after his car wedged underneath a tractor trailer.
Unfortunately, this accident was not an isolated incident and underride accidents are a far-too-common occurrence in Indiana and throughout the United States.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has, in the past, made recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) intended to reduce the number of underride wrecks or even to eliminate them entirely. Unfortunately, NHTSA has not made the recommended changes to regulations fpr trailers and large trucks. Now, even as the prior problems have not been corrected, IIHS has released a new alert indicating that recent crash tests have raised the possibility of additional underride accident risks.
IIHS Concerned About Underride Accidents
Underride accidents happen when a car gets wedged underneath a large truck or tractor-trailer. Obviously, when this occurs, the top of the car can get crushed and serious injuries can be suffered including injury to the head and neck.
Preventing these type of accidents should be a top priority and there are regulations in place designed to prevent cars from being pushed underneath trucks. For example, the majority of semitrailers are required to have underride guards installed. These guards consist of steel bars that hang down from the back of trucks and stop cars from going underneath.
IIHS’s past criticism of the regulations related to underride prevention center around the fact that the guards are often not strong enough and not large enough. Because the bars were not sufficient to stop cars from sliding underneath, IIHS made recommendations to NHTSA suggesting that the regulations quality of the guards be improved. IIHS also requested that NHTSA expand the types of large trucks the regulations apply to by making it mandatory for more trucks to have guards. For example, dump trucks aren’t currently required to have these underride prevention bars and IIHS has suggested that they should be required to come into compliance.
Unfortunately, NHTSA has not yet passed tougher regulations. And now, IIHS crash tests reveal a high risk of underride accidents when a passenger car hits the back side of a truck. The bars, in other words, prevent the car from slipping underneath the truck if the car hits the center rear. But when a car strikes the side, on the other hand, there is no protection to prevent an underride accident. Since cars often hit from the side if they are trying to swerve out of the way to avoid a crash, this is a serious problem.
In light of the new crash test information from IIHS, hopefully NHTSA will be prompted to take action both to address the past concerns and to address the new safety risk revealed by the recent IIHS crash tests.