As Indiana truck accident lawyers, we have found that tractor-trailer underride guards prevent serious damage to a passenger vehicle when the smaller vehicle crashes into the rear of a commercial truck. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that these underride guards do little to prevent serious injuries to the occupants of a passenger vehicle in low-speed accidents.
In any rear-ender accident, the front of the car is designed to absorb much of the impact from the crash. However, when a passenger vehicle rear ends a tractor-trailer, the front of the smaller vehicle may slide under the trailer, causing serious injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle. Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed more than 1,000 accidents that occurred between 2001 and 2003. Of these, 113 accidents were rear-ender crashes in which a smaller passenger vehicle crashed into the rear of a semi or truck or trailer. 28 of these accidents ended with fatalities to the occupants of the passenger vehicles. Out of these, 23 accidents involved complete destruction of the front of the passenger vehicle due to failure of the truck’s underride guard. Most of these injuries are direct impact injuries to the head of the driver and front seat passenger, and the impact is almost instantly fatal.
The Insurance Institute is now calling on the federal administration to strengthen standards for underride guards, to make these more effective in preventing injuries in low-speed accidents. In many cases, these guards are not effective in preventing catastrophic injuries to passenger vehicle occupants. The federal administration must step in to enhance the strength and reliability standards of these guards, so that these serious injuries and fatalities can be avoided.