Large trucks, like 18-wheelers, can weigh 20 or 30 times as much as passenger vehicles, which can affect the amount of force involved in a collision. With this in mind, it may not be a surprise that the occupants of passenger vehicles are more vulnerable than truck drivers when the two vehicles collide.

However, many people do not realize that a truck’s high ground clearance also contributes to the vulnerability of passenger vehicle occupants in a crash. This is because the high ground clearance can lead to a particularly dangerous type of trucking collision called an underriding collision, which involves a passenger vehicle sliding or being pushed underneath the 18-wheeler. 

What causes underride collisions?

A passenger vehicle can underride any side of a truck. Almost 60% of underride collisions involve the front of the truck. Over 20% involve the rear of the truck, and about 20% occur on one of the truck’s sides.

Some possible causes for underriding collisions include:

· Poorly maintained brakes in the truck

· The truck driver slamming on the brakes

· The truck driver merging or changing lanes without signaling properly

· The truck driver following another driver too closely

Is anything being done to prevent underriding collisions?

To prevent some underriding collisions from occurring, federal law requires large trucks to have underride guards installed on the back of them. However, laws do not require trucks to have guards on any other side. Additionally, some of the rear underride guards do not effectively prevent an underride event if the impact is not straight on.

You may be able to avoid an underriding collision by staying out of a truck’s blind spots, not cutting too closely in front of a truck and leaving plenty of space when driving behind a truck. Being patient and vigilant when driving near trucks can also help.

If a loved one was seriously injured or killed in an underriding collision, there may be options to recover related expenses. Depending on the details of your loved one’s situation, the truck driver, trucking company or truck maintenance company could be held responsible.

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