An underride truck accident occurs when a smaller vehicle collides with and slides underneath the truck, generally crushing or sheering off the roof of the smaller vehicle. While the most common type of underride accident occurs at the truck’s rear end, such accidents can also occur at the side or front of trucks. Underride accidents are often more devastating than other types of truck accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides extensive information about different types of trucks and variables involved in underride accidents. Since 1953, the United States has required underride guards and put guard standards in place. Over the years, guard standards for trailers and semi-trailers have been tested, strengthened and updated.
Here are some significant statistics reported by the NHTSA and gathered from a study that focused on underride accidents from 2008 to 2009:
- A total of 977 rear end truck collisions involved fatalities.
- These 977 fatal rear end collisions comprised 13 percent of all fatal crashes involving trucks.
- Tractor trailers accounted for 62.7 percent of all fatal crashes.
- Straight trucks (single frame trucks) accounted for 28.7 percent of all fatal crashes.
- The majority of striking vehicles in these fatal rear-end crashes were light vehicles (passenger cars, minivans, SUVs and light duty pickups).
- Some degree of underride took place in approximately 75 percent of all rear-end crashes involving light vehicles.
- In more than half of these accidents, the striking vehicle rode under the truck past the halfway mark of the striking vehicle’s length.
When driving, you should maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and a large truck. Never tailgate and be vigilant about slowing or stopping when you notice the truck braking.