Commercial Trucks & Risks Inadequate Underride Protection in South Florida

One of our greatest dangers while traveling near tractor-trailers is the risk of underride. This is the problem we face in accidents with these big rigs when our vehicles slide right up underneath them. On an encouraging note, these trailers have become more effective in decreasing risks with stronger underride guards. But are they strong enough?

According to officials with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the guards on these trucks are helping to eliminate these risks when you slam into the back of a trailer. But they’re not effective when your vehicle is involved in a collision with only a small portion of the truck’s rear. This is when most trailers fail to prevent potentially fatal underride.

Our Broward trucking accident attorneys understand that not all semis are required to have an underride guard. You may be familiar with these guards — they’re the bars that hang from the bottom of trailers to help to keep passenger vehicles from sliding underneath these trucks in the event of an accident. According to earlier studies, the minimum requirements for these guards weren’t enough. These studies prompted officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to tighten up regulations back in 2011. But safe driving advocates aren’t happy just yet, as they’re continuing to push for these guards on even more types of trucks — like dump trucks.

Tractor-trailer companies are coming through with stronger guards. But why if they’re not mandated? Many believe that these guards are stronger because the standards are tougher in Canada — and they have been since 2007. Others believe that they’re getting stronger because of the recent crash test results published by the IIHS. Since then, at least one trailer manufacturer has started selling a trailer with an even better and stronger underride guard.

In just 2011, more than 250 of the 2,240 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in accidents with large trucks reportedly died when the fronts of their vehicles slammed into the back of these large trucks. That’s a number that’s down from the 460 reported in 2004, but it’s still not low enough. Officials believe that the drop in this number is largely due to the tougher design of passenger vehicles, the stronger make of these underride guards and the fact that our struggling economy had drivers taking time off from the road.

When you’re sharing the road with a big rig, you’re asked to be on your best behavior. Pay attention and keep your distance. You never want to travel too closely to a big rig. The size, weight and power of our passenger vehicles don’t stand a chance against that of a large, commercial vehicle.