Of the different types of auto accidents that can happen on the road, truck undercarriage accidents are among the most frightening and potentially lethal. Following defensive driving practices can reduce the probability of a collision, but the sheer number of trucks on the road makes it impossible to avoid all chance of a collision entirely.
If you’ve been the victim of a truck undercarriage accident, it’s vital that you recover adequate compensation for your injuries. The skilled attorneys at Wagner Reese understand the complexity of Indiana truck accident law and will fight on your behalf to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
What is a Truck Undercarriage Accident?
A truck undercarriage accident, also known as a carriage underride crash, occurs when a car collides with the underside of a truck. These accidents are often catastrophic because the impact can cause extensive damage to the car and serious and even fatal injuries to the occupants.
How Do Truck Undercarriage Accidents Happen?
Truck undercarriage accidents are relatively rare, but can happen in several ways. One more common way they occur is when a car attempts to overtake a truck on the highway while unknowingly inside the truck’s blind spot. Another way they can happen is if a car is following a truck too closely and the truck makes a sudden stop. When a car rear-ends a truck, the car may become wedged underneath, potentially even without the truck driver’s notice.
Alternatively, if a car collides with a truck from the side, the force of the impact can cause the car to slide beneath the truck.
These accidents are often very serious because the truck’s weight can crush the car. In addition, the car’s occupants may be injured by debris or exposed to hazardous materials from the truck. To avoid these accidents, it is essential for drivers to be aware of the potential hazards and to maintain a safe following distance when driving near trucks.
How Often Do Truck Undercarriage Accidents Occur?
Carriage underride crashes represent less than 1% of total traffic deaths. However, when they do happen, these accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and be deadly.
Between 2008-2017, the NHTSA reported an average of 219 fatalities from truck undercarriage accidents annually. The average passenger car is much lower to the ground than a truck, which means that the truck undercarriage can completely crush the cabin of the car. In addition, these accidents often occur at high speeds, which can cause serious injuries and death.
How Effective Are Underride Guards for Heavy Trailers?
The Department of Transportation requires heavy trucks to have a safety bar in the back of the vehicle to prevent cars from driving into the undercarriage in a rear-end collision. Research is currently being done to determine whether similar bars on the sides of semi-trucks can prevent undercarriage accidents.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is also trying to determine whether side underride guards have a negative impact on trucks’ stability.
Ways to Reduce Your Chances of Getting into an Undercarriage Accident
While trucks have safety bars to attempt to prevent these accidents, other motor vehicle drivers should use defensive driving to avoid the undercarriage of large commercial trucks.
Drivers can take the following measures to protect themselves:
- Large trucks have wide blind spots in the front, back, and sides. Always use caution when merging close to a truck as the driver may not see you.
- Slow down slightly and stay to the right as a truck passes you.
- Never tailgate trucks, as it increases the likelihood of a truck collision in the event of a sudden stop.
- Maintain a safe distance from trucks, especially on roads on an incline where trucks can roll backward at high speeds.
- Wait until trucks have completed turning before continuing your journey. Semis and other large vehicles have a wider turning circle than most cars. Especially pay careful attention when trucks are making a right-hand turn; if they are turning from a right lane, they may pull out wider before turning, increasing the chance of a collision.
Speak to Our Truck Accident Lawyers
If you sustained injuries from a truck undercarriage accident, contact the Indiana big truck crash lawyers at Wagner Reese to handle your claim. When you work with Wagner Reese, we thoroughly investigate the accident and gather evidence, including witness statements, photo and video footage, and police reports to build a strong case to ensure you get a fair settlement for your injuries.
For more information, contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation.