Underride Accidents: How Great Are the Risks of Getting Caught Beneath a Truck?

The sheer size, weight, and destructive potential of a semi-trailer truck pretty much guarantee massive destruction when an accident occurs. Jackknife crashes, rollovers, tire blowouts, and rear-end collisions are all types of catastrophic truck accidents that can potentially put your life at risk. However, although these types of accidents all have the potential to cause serious injuries, there’s only one truck accident type that will unquestionably result in severe injuries no matter how minor the collision. That type of accident is known as an underride collision.

Understanding the Underride

An underride collision (also called an undercarriage accident) happens when a smaller vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle, collides into the side or back of a truck and becomes wedged underneath the trailer. Since the base of a semi-truck’s trailer is approximately the same height as a vehicle’s engine block, the front of a vehicle can slide under the trailer before stopping. This allows the trailer’s edge to shear away the top of the vehicle and crush the driver and any passengers. The same thing happens for motorcycles, as the rider is also placed at a similar height.

If the passengers are lucky enough to survive this ordeal, the likelihood of them sustaining only minor injuries is pretty remote.

Risk Factors

Due to the disastrous nature of underride accidents, extensive studies have been performed to learn more about the risk factors involved and potential precautionary measures needed to decrease underride fatalities. The following statistical data is an overview of combined research from studies taken from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the Transportation Safety Association.

  • Over 200,000 truck accidents occur each year, with rear-end and rear side collisions accounting for nearly 19% of them.
  • An estimated 77,000 truck accidents a year result in major injuries. Approximately 20% of these accidents are fatal.
  • Side and rear-end collisions make up an estimated 37% of truck accidents. Nearly 59% of rear and side truck collisions are fatal.
  • Approximately four out of five victims of rear-end underride collisions will die from their injuries, an 82% fatality rate.
  • With the added danger of being crushed by rear wheels, 88% of side collisions are fatal.
  • Underride guards are an essential countermeasure for underride accidents and fatalities, as they decrease accident severity by 20%.

For more information on underride risks, please feel free to browse our extensive library of informative articles. If you or a loved one has recently suffered from a truck accident or underride injury, contact our office directly at to setup a free consultation. We’ll be happy to discuss your claim and legal options for damage compensation.

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