An underride accident, where your vehicle becomes lodged underneath a semi truck, is one of the most catastrophic truck accidents you can suffer. As a result of underride accidents, more than 400 people die, and an additional 5,000 victims become severely injured every year.
So, what exactly causes suck horrendous collisions? Truck design.
Underriding Causes of Injuries
The weight and size of big rig trucks are the contributing factors that allow for such destruction in underride collisions. Whenever a vehicle collides into a semi-truck, the truck’s bulk will protect itself from major damage by deflecting the force back onto the vehicle. In other words, when a passenger vehicle collides with a truck, the vehicle will sustain the most damage. Unfortunately, this fact is even more definitive when it comes to underride collisions, due to the catastrophic nature of the truck’s trailer height.
When driving near a truck, you may have noticed that the height of the truck’s wheels raises its trailer bed much higher than your vehicle’s frame. In fact, the bottom edge of the trailer is approximately level with your shoulder when you’re sitting in your vehicle. The trailer height is essential for cargo transportation, but it, unfortunately, poses a threat for motorists during collisions. The height allows for a gap between the bottom edge of the trailer and the road—and during a collision, the front end of a car slides into this gap until it jams.
As a vehicle slides into this space, the front of the vehicle—which would usually absorb impact force—has nothing to strike. Therefore, the car continues to slide under the truck until the top of the car comes into contact with the trailer’s edge. At this point, because the force of the collision is still high, the trailer edge smashes the windshield, and then crushes or shears off the roof of the passenger compartment.
Common Trailer Edge Injuries
The same results happen whether the crash was a rear-end collision or a side collision. The force that the trailer’s edge places on the fragile windshield and weak car frame can ultimately lead to the following injuries:
- Traumatic head injuries. The edge of the trailer can collide or smash into the skulls of passengers and driver.
- Spinal cord injuries. The force of the impact can cause severe whiplash while also potentially cutting or severing portions of the neck and spine.
- Catastrophic crush injuries. Along with the edge, the bulk of the trailer will also collide with the passengers, increasing risk of contusions and compression injuries (broken bones, internal bleeding, crushed organs, etc.)
- Decapitation. Depending on the force in which the trailer’s edge is moving, it can completely shear off and crush the top of the car and everything else in its way.
- Death. Any of the above injuries can result in immediate death or eventual fatality from complications.
To prevent such disastrous injuries, trucks are supposed to be equipped with metal barriers that reduce the gap under a trailer. This underride guard is designed to absorb some of the impact force before the front of a passenger vehicle can be dragged underneath the truck. However, many trucks fail to have adequate safety guards. Either the truck doesn’t have guards at all (rear guards are mandatory for most large trucks in the United States, but front and side guards are not), or the guards they have aren’t strong enough to prevent the car from pushing under.
To protect yourself (and your future) from the painful effects of a truck accident, make sure you have the help you need when you need it. To avoid wasting time and energy during your recovery, place our contact information in your phone right now. Although we sincerely hope you’ll never have to use it, we want you to have the legal protection you deserve if you do. Trust us, after 20 years of helping victims like you receive financial compensation for their truck accident injuries, we know you won’t regret having us on call.
Johnson & Gilbert, P. A.
170 East Granada Blvd.
Ormond Beach, FL 32176
Phone: (386) 673-4412
Toll Free: (800) 556-8890