Lawmakers hope to tackle deadly underride crashes with new rules

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2022 | Truck Accidents |

When commercial vehicles crash with smaller passenger vehicles, the outcome of the wreck can be tragic. Underride collisions can be particularly devastating. They occur when a smaller passenger vehicle strikes a commercial vehicle from the rear or the sides. At high speeds, such crashes may result in the smaller vehicle going under the commercial truck.

The consequences of underride collisions often include the complete destruction of the smaller vehicle and catastrophic, if not fatal, injuries for the occupants. For years, lawmakers have proposed changes to laws aimed at preventing this kind of crash, but just recently, new federal rules have gone into effect that could help prevent some underride collisions.

Annual inspections will now include underride guards

Every trailer on a semitruck should have a strong underride guard attached to the rear. These metal devices help stop a vehicle from hitting the back wheels of the truck or passing under the trailer. Unfortunately, the required underride guards may not be quite wide enough, strong enough or tall enough to have maximum benefit for the public.

Manufacturers often do not invest in the best guards available but rather in the cheapest guard they can find that brings them into legal compliance. They may then allow those underride guards to deteriorate with age and rust despite the potential of the guard failing if a crash occurs.

Federal lawmakers have addressed such behavior by adding underride guards to the truck systems subject to annual inspections. Those checking commercial vehicles for regulatory compliance will now need to inspect the underride guard in addition to the other crucial systems of the commercial vehicle. Those that own the vehicles will then need to upgrade or repair guards that don’t pass the inspection before that semitruck can go back out on the road.

Companies may be liable for underride collisions

Many commercial crashes are clearly the responsibility of a driver, but sometimes the issue is with the vehicle itself. The use of inadequate or age-damaged underride guards may open a company up to liability claims after a potentially preventable crash.

Looking into who is ultimately responsible for the commercial vehicle collision that affected your family can help you file an insurance claim or take action in the civil courts.