The behavior of individual motorists in traffic and the actions taken by commercial drivers directly influence the possibility of a collision occurring. However, the actions taken by commercial transportation companies also influence the risk that the general public must grapple with.
The sad truth is that sometimes, the companies that own and maintain semi-trucks would rather keep costs low than invest in the equipment that would potentially save lives.
Underride guards are a point of contention in the trucking industry
Activists and lawmakers have fought for improved regulations related to underride guards for years. Some people have demanded that the government mandate side underride guards, as is the practice in Canada. Others have wanted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to apply stricter standards to the rear underride guards that companies have to install on every trailer.
Unfortunately, companies will often purchase the smallest and cheapest guards that they can to save money on fuel and the purchase price of the guard. They may purchase devices that are less effective and forgo side underride guards altogether.
These decisions may not seem like an issue until one of their vehicles causes an underride collision. Even then, the people in the other vehicle will be the ones to pay the price. Although there may be a large commercial insurance policy to compensate the people affected, the money received in a claim can be a cold comfort for those who lost a loved one or who must now cope with lifelong injuries.
In some cases, it may also be possible to pursue a claim against the transportation company, which might lead to a change in how the company operates. Until the law changes to mandate better underride guards, it may be only financial losses that will push companies to invest more in these safety-critical devices.
Recognizing how the decisions made by a commercial transportation company may have contributed to the cause(s) of a crash can help the affected parties decide what steps to take with the assistance of a legal professional after a collision with a commercial vehicle.