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Is Progress Being Made in Improving Underride Guard Safety?

By this time next week, the highways across the U.S. will be filled with travelers making their way to the homes of family and friends for Thanksgiving. Of course, they won’t just be sharing the road with would-be holiday celebrants, but also truck drivers trying to make their scheduled deliveries.

As such, it’s important for drivers to exercise the necessary degree of caution as this increased flow of traffic coupled with potentially poor weather conditions and the large volume of trucks can create the perfect conditions for a disastrous truck accident.

Indeed, one type of truck accident that drivers need to take care to protect themselves against is a rear-end crash.

Why are rear-end crashes — i.e., when passenger vehicles crash into the backs of tractor trailers — so dangerous?

When a passenger vehicle crashes head-on or even off-center into the back of a trailer being pulled by a semi, there is the possibility that the underride guard — the metal barrier that extends beneath the trailer to prevent vehicles from sliding underneath during a high-speed crash — may fail.

Just how bad are these rear-end truck accidents?

Statistics from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition reveal that in 2011, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 260 people lost their lives in rear-end truck accidents. Breaking the numbers down, this means as many as 19 percent of fatal crashes involving trucks and passenger vehicles in 2011 involved a rear impact.

Stay tuned for our next post, in which we’ll continue to explore this important topic, examining why underride guards fail, what trailer manufacturers have done to address the issue, and what steps the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking to make America’s roads and highways safer.

If a horrific truck accident has turned your life upside down, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about how to hold the responsible parties accountable for their recklessness.

Source: RTV 6, “Report shows improvement in underride safety,” Kara Kenney, Oct. 9, 2014