Commercial trucks are not known for their nimble navigation nor for their fuel efficiency. Massive 18-wheelers and semis often take substantially longer to stop than smaller passenger vehicles and require more skill and foresight to safely arrive at their destination. While on the road, those heavy, large trucks will also consume a substantial amount of gasoline.
Concern for fuel efficiency and the expenses involved per mile are two of the reasons that trucking companies continue to fight against the mandated installation of side underride guards despite evidence that doing so would save lives. These kinds of tragic trucking accidents often have catastrophic consequences and could usually be preventable with the right kinds of safety guards.
Side underrides are often fatal
Underride collisions occur when a smaller passenger vehicle slips, drives or otherwise winds up underneath a large commercial vehicle. The angle of approach for the passenger vehicle defines how investigators categorize the underride crash.
Side underride collisions occur when a passenger vehicle goes underneath the sides of a trailer attached to a truck, typically between the axles. In this process, the top of the cab may wind up crushed or completely sheared off the vehicle, often resulting in catastrophic, if not fatal, injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle. Older commercial trucks represent more risks, due to both a lack of guards and other safety features now common in newer trailers.
Side underride guards are pieces of metal attached to the underside of the trailer between the axles. Because they are heavy and metal, they cost quite a bit to install. They also impact gas mileage, further eating into a trucking company’s profits.
Other countries already mandate side underride yards
Given that there is no federal requirement to install side underride guards, you might mistakenly assume that there isn’t much research validating their usefulness in the event of a side underride collision.
However, the data affirming the usefulness and life-saving properties of side underride guards is hard to deny. In fact, other countries, including Canada, already require commercial trucks to include these critical guards. Those who wind up severely hurt or who lose a loved one in a side underride collision may be able to seek compensation from the trucking company involved if a new trailer or an underride guard would have saved the lives of the people in the passenger vehicle.