What is an underride crash involving a commercial truck?

The way that commercial trucks operate is so different from four-wheeled vehicles that they can cause very unique crashes, like jackknife collisions. Such wrecks are notorious for blocking many lanes of traffic and involving multiple other vehicles.

Underride collisions are also a type of wreck that typically only ever occurs when a smaller passenger vehicle strikes a larger commercial truck. They are the reverse of an override crash, which happens when a large truck strikes a passenger vehicle from the rear and drives over part of the vehicle.

Underride collisions have a reputation for destroying vehicles and often severely injuring or killing vehicle occupants. What exactly occurs during an underride crash?

Momentum works against the smaller vehicle

The combination of a vehicle’s momentum and the large difference in size between four-wheeled vehicles and commercial ones is what causes underride wrecks. There are times when a passenger vehicle will end up colliding with a commercial truck, either because the truck came to a stop or because of a faulty maneuver on the part of either driver. The height difference means the smaller vehicle may end up underneath the big one.

A rear underride collision occurs when a four-wheel vehicle hits the back of a commercial truck. The wrong angle or excessive speed might lead to the vehicle ending up under the rear of the trailer, often with catastrophic results. Side underride collisions can occur in moving traffic. They occur when a passenger vehicle goes under the sides of the trailer between the axle. Such collisions often cut off the top of the vehicle, which can cause massive injuries to occupants.

How to prevent underride collisions

Trucking companies could potentially reduce the number of underride collisions by investing more in specialized underride guards. From cost-cutting measures when buying mandatory rear guards to refusing to install side underride guards because the federal government does not mandate them yet, there are multiple ways in which trucking companies fail to put safety first when it comes to underride collisions and the maintenance of their fleets.

For members of the public, the best way to prevent underride collisions is to avoid driving directly behind or next to a commercial truck. Educating yourself about the types of commercial truck crashes that can occur will help you better advocate for yourself or your family if one ever affects you.