Semi Truck Underride Accidents Claim Lives Despite New Safety Equipment
A study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety shows that the underride guards on most tractor trailers leave people in cars at risk in certain types of crashes.
All semi trucks have underride guards, which are steel bars that are designed to stop smaller vehicles from sliding underneath a tractor-trailer and being crushed during an accident. When a car crashes into a big rig from behind, the elevated truck bumper often breaks through the windshield and crushes the passenger compartment. This type of rear-end collision prevents seat belts and air bags from effectively restraining the driver, and makes semi trailer collisions particularly dangerous.
Tractor trailer wrecks are a serious issue in Oklahoma. In 2011, there were 4,731 traffic accidents involving large trucks, according to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. There were 2,020 persons injured or killed in large truck crashes, and most were occupants of other vehicles. Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa are “hotspots” for truck accidents due to their large populations and busy roads.
Tractor trailer crashes can shut down major freeways for lengthy periods of time. On July 23, 2013, a big rig accident involving five vehicles blocked traffic around Tulsa for several hours. The wreck was caused by two semi trucks colliding, one of which burst into flames. At 2 a.m. on July 16, a commercial truck crashed on Interstate 44 near Oklahoma City, and all westbound lanes were closed for more than eight hours.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a joint study of safety issues related to commercial truck crashes. The goal was to identify areas in which policy changes can decrease large truck accidents and truck-related passenger vehicle injuries and fatalities.
Some of the key issues that could be regulated in order to reduce large truck wrecks are:
- Vehicle load
- Driver fatigue and hours of service
- Vehicle maintenance and inspection
- Driver working environment
- Environmental factors such as inclement weather and road construction
- Vehicle design
Regarding design, while the Insurance Institute found that major truck manufacturers are installing strong underride guards, off-center crashes can negate their effectiveness because the car does not necessarily strike the underride guard. In the U.S., standards for underride guards are fairly low. The IIHS is advocating for tougher regulations of underride guards, in the hope of reducing fatal truck-car accidents.
Have you been injured or lost a loved one to a tractor trailer wreck or collision with a commercial vehicle? A knowledgeable Oklahoma truck accident attorney can assist. The personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Burch, George & Germany, P.C., help clients in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Norman to win their cases. Our clients receive top-notch legal representation in cases involving traffic accidents, truck crashes, and other vehicle collisions.
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