Commercial trucks are a major source of risk for smaller passenger vehicles. The size and weight of a commercial truck make it very possible for the vehicle to cause catastrophic damage to the smaller passenger vehicle in a crash.
Of the various kinds of collisions that result from a crash between passenger and commercial vehicles, the underride crash is arguably the most horrific. Interestingly, it is also one of the most preventable kinds of truck crashes.
What is an underride crash?
An underride crash occurs when a passenger vehicle goes underneath a larger commercial vehicle. There are three kinds of underride crashes. A rear underride crash happens when a passenger vehicle rear-ends a commercial vehicle, going under the trailer and possibly the rear wheels.
A side underride collision occurs when a passenger vehicle slips underneath the trailer in between the axles. This kind of crash often results in the top part of the passenger vehicle getting cut off by the frame of the trailer, often with fatal results for the people in the passenger vehicle.
Finally, a front underride crash happens when a commercial truck goes up and over the rear end of a passenger vehicle in front of it.
There are guards that reduce underride risks
In order to prevent front underride crashes, trucks usually have a very low clearance on the road. For rear underride crashes, there is a guard bar that can reduce the risk of a vehicle slipping under the truck. Side underride guards look like large sheets of metal hanging down from the bottom of the trailer.
Many trucking companies only invest in the bare minimum, which means the rear guard may not be wide or strong enough. It also means they may not invest in side underride guards, as they are not required under federal statutes at this time.