Amid a nationwide spike in fatal car accidents, a new rule has been issued to reduce one type of particularly deadly truck accident.
In late June, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a "final rule" to set standards for truck underride guards.
Underride guards on tractor-trailers can save lives
Underride truck accidents are among the most deadly crash types. Researchers estimate that 80-90 percent of underride truck accidents are fatal.
Underride truck accidents happen when a smaller vehicle slides underneath a large truck, usually under the rear or trailer. The vehicle is moving with such speed and force that the cab is frequently sheared off, and the occupants are often killed or left with severe and sometimes permanent injuries.
New underride guard rule
Rear underride guards reduce the risk of a tractor-trailer accident becoming fatal. The guard, basically a bar, stops the smaller vehicle from sliding underneath the truck before the rear makes contact with the cab. The new NHTSA rule says the guards must be able to withstand the impact of a rear-end hit by a compact or subcompact passenger vehicle traveling at 35 mph.
Safety advocates have commended the NHTSA for the improvement, but many have said the new rule doesn't go far enough. For example, some expressed disappointment that there were no rule changes to require side underride guards on large semi-trucks. Side underride guards are like the rear guards, just on the sides of the trailer.
Fatal truck underride accidents
It is difficult to estimate how frequently underride accidents occur. Fatal truck accidents are tracked and analyzed, but whether the wreck was an underride is not something the NHTSA records.
Stop Underrides is an advocacy group that has attempted to quantify the problem. Advocates dug through fatal truck crash data going back to 1994 to figure out how many people have died in underride accidents and where those accidents happened. They say that about 600 people die in underride accidents nationwide every year.
In Texas, Stop Underrides estimates that there were 337 deaths due to underride accidents from 1994 to 2015, the period with the most recent information available. A map of these crashes in the Houston-Dallas-San Antonio Texas Triangle show multiple accidents have occurred on or nearby:
Texas truck accident attorneys handling complex cases
Underride truck accidents are horrific. Accident victims deserve the time and compensation they need to heal. Unfortunately, as is the case with many truck accidents, multiple insurance companies can be involved, and none of them want to take responsibility for the victim's losses. That's when experienced legal representation can make a meaningful difference.
If you or a loved one was in an underride accident or some other type of semi-truck wreck, the sooner you talk to an attorney about your legal rights and options, the better. Cases involving truck accidents typically require comprehensive investigations, and the longer you wait, the more likely it is that evidence in support of your case can weaken or disappear.
Don't put yourself at a disadvantage or try to take on the other side's attorneys by yourself. Tracey Fox King & Walters has the resources and legal knowledge to fight for the results you deserve. We've recovered over $400 million for our clients and have earned a reputation as the lawyers that injured Texans trust.
Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Texas truck accident lawyer to learn more about how we can help you.