An accident between a tractor-trailer and passenger vehicle is one of the worst imaginable for anyone in the smaller vehicle. Your 3,000- to 4,000-pound car is no match for a fully loaded 80,000-pound truck on a Pennsylvania roadway. The nightmare becomes even worse if the passenger vehicle slides underneath the truck, further exposing occupants to danger, including being crushed by the truck’s rear wheels or having parts of the truck enter the cab.
Some members of Congress would like to minimize the chances of that terrifying scenario by mandating guard rails on the sides of trailers and on the front of trucks, both of which are currently optional. The devices cover the open space between the front and rear wheels of the truck, lessening the chances of smaller vehicles going underneath the truck. The bill, which has bipartisan support, also calls for strengthening rear guards, which have been mandatory on trailers since 1953.
“With so many unpredictable accidents on the road, underride guards are an easy solution for protecting people and preventing them from dying when a car collides with a truck,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., one of the bill’s four sponsors.
The need for guard rails becomes even more apparent when looking at highway accident statistics:
- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates 1,475 people in passenger vehicles died in collisions involving tractor-trailers in 2016. The numbers show that 295 passengers killed were in a vehicle that hit the side of a big truck, and another 238 passengers died when their vehicle struck the rear.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation says about 4,000 people were killed in underride crashes between 1994 and 2014, including about 1,530 related to side underride crashes.
Sadly, the United States lags behind other countries when it comes to underride guard mandates. According to the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, side guards have been required in many countries as far back as the 1980’s.
While the proposed legislation would address the issue, in the meantime, you and your loved ones are at risk every day of becoming involved in an accident with a big truck lacking protective side-guards. A collision with a truck trailer will likely result in major damage to your vehicle, catastrophic injuries to you or your passengers or, even worse, a tragic loss of life. The consequences can be physical, emotional and mental for you and your family. Don’t expect any understanding from the trucking company and its insurance companies, who will pressure you into accepting a monetary settlement that may seem reasonable, but is far less than you deserve for your pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an underride truck accident, you need someone who is going to look out for your best interests. The specialized Pennsylvania car accident lawyers at Marcus and Mack have nearly 100 years of combined legal experience fighting for the rights of injury victims and their families in Western and Central Pennsylvania, with offices in Indiana and Johnstown. They know how to handle trucking companies and their insurers while you focus your energies on healing from your trauma. You can visit our website for a free, confidential consultation.