Colliding with a large commercial truck has poor odds for the passengers and drivers in the other vehicle. Of all the fatalities that occur from large truck accidents, over 70% of them are passengers or driver of other vehicles. One common type of accident involving large trucks is when other vehicles slide under the truck, essentially cutting the passenger vehicle in half and often causing fatalities. Although some safety precautions are in place, more needs to be done to prevent these types of accidents.
Anatomy Of An Under-Carriage Truck Accident
Under-carriage, also known as under-ride or under-run accidents happen when a large cargo or semi-truck collides with a passenger vehicle. This can happen from any angle; being hit from behind, the side or running into the back of the truck. The passenger vehicle does not have any guards to protect it above the bumper and hood or trunk, allowing it to easily slide under the truck. The impact, regardless of safety features, generally will crush or even remove the area of vehicle at the level of impact. For most cars, this would be at about the level of the dashboard.
The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety did a study on 1,000 large truck crashes that happened between 2001-2003 and were part of the federal Large Truck Crash Causation Study. Only 78% of the crashes did not have any under-carriage damage to the other vehicle and in 82% of the cases where there was a fatality, there was severe under-carriage damage that occurred during the accident.
Current Safety Measures in Place To Protect Motorists From Under-Carriage Accidents With Trucks
The main safety measure that is used to prevent under-carriage accidents is an under-ride guard that is installed on rear end of large trucks. Although these may prevent some cars or trucks from going underneath the carriage, it is not enough. In another study done by the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, they tested different rear guards at different impact speeds and variables. Even with a rear-guard in place, at only 35 MPH, some crashes lead to impact to the head area of the crash dummies and serious damage to the test passenger vehicle.
One concern is how these rear guards are tested. Instead of being tested as a whole system, which the bolts, guard and welding in place, only the individual parts are required to be tested. Another concern is that even if rear guards are able to prevent some under-ride accidents, there is nothing in place to prevent under-carriage accidents from the side or front of a large truck.
There is still a long way to go in preventing under-carriage accidents. The trucking industry needs to continue to press forward in new standards to protect other vehicles on the road from becoming victim to sliding under these large trucks in an accident. Until more safety measures are taken, there will continue to be high rates of fatalities and decapitations in this type of accident.