Motor vehicle accidents can go far beyond mild fender benders. Many collisions put car occupants in serious danger of injury or death. Yet, few are as terrifying as an underride wreck where drivers and occupants can find themselves under a commercial truck with few options for escape.
The terrifying collision occurs when a car slides underneath a large truck and is trapped between the wheels, with few options for escape. The “merging” of the vehicles occurs at the rear or side of the truck.
Solutions exist in the form of a rear safety bar, also known as an underride guard, that can prevent tragedy. After countless demands for stronger guards, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration updated rear guard standards. However, that same government entity needs to have requirements for the sides of trucks to prevent these catastrophes.
Severe injuries to drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles often accompany an underride accident. The point of impact is either the windshield or hood of the smaller transport. Even more alarming are the challenges presented when airbags often fail to activate.
Usually, the occupants of the smaller vehicles are the ones most seriously harmed in these crashes, Bates said. Truck drivers are often uninjured because they sit higher up and away from the areas of impact. Sometimes, Bates said, truck drivers aren’t even aware that there’s been a collision.
According to a GAO report from 2019, the consequences are usually severe head and neck injuries, with many losing their lives. Add to those statistics a more recent analysis of NHTSA data by FRONTLINE and ProPublica uncovered more than 400 fatalities in 2021.
Underride crashes remain a problem in desperate need of a solution. Sub-standard regulations continue to be a clear and present danger for car occupants sharing roads with large commercial truck drivers.