This month, a gruesome trucking accident in Indiana highlighted the ongoing need for proper underride guards in the American trucking industry. Earlier this month, a pickup truck collided with the side of a commercial tanker truck making a left turn into traffic from a commercial driveway.
The pickup’s driver was then trapped in the pickup, which was crushed into the area under the tanker truck. He was stuck in the vehicle until emergency crews freed him some time later. Workers used an oversized, inflatable air bag to lift the tanker off of the pickup truck. This was possible because the tanker was empty at the time of the accident.
Fortunately, due to the low speed of the crash, the driver was not killed, and was even conscious when the emergency workers freed him. He suffered only several broken bones. The driver of the commercial tanker truck was not injured.
At higher speeds, however, underride accidents are generally far more disastrous, often involving amputations, decapitations and other fatalities. An underride accident is one in which a smaller vehicle moves partway or fully underneath the body of a commercial truck before coming to a stop. Although the most common underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle rear-ends a truck, on city streets broadside underride accidents occur with reasonable frequency, as well.
Unfortunately, American regulators have failed to implement a simple device which can protect against this type of trucking accident – the underride guard. An underride guard attaches to and extends below the truck, preventing smaller vehicles from moving partially into the space underneath. To date, only a very few types of trucks are required to have underride guards in the U.S., and guards are required only on the rear of the truck, not the sides. And even for those truck types where guards are required, standards are lax.
The underride guard is a simple, relatively inexpensive piece of equipment. While it cannot prevent accidents, it can dramatically decrease the injuries sustained when an accident occurs, and dramatically increase the odds of survival for the drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles.
Our top trucking accident attorneys thus urge our regulators to move to require underride guards on all commercial tractor-trailer and tanker trucks, and to tighten standards on those guards that are used. In comparison to the cost of guards, the cost in damage and human life from the lack of guards is overwhelming.
But until our regulators act, the civil justice system will be there to encourage the trucking industry to take action on its own. If you or someone you love was injured in a trucking accident, and your car or part of your car entered the space under the truck, talk to an experienced trucking accident lawyer. Bringing a legal claim against those who caused your injuries, including those who failed to equip the truck with an underride guard, may force one company or the industry as a whole to take action to correct this dangerous condition. Your courage, and your actions, could save the lives of accident victims who come after you.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago trucking accident lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.