What Is An Underride Truck Crash?

Underride Crash: What to Know

Underride accidents with a truck driver
Semi-trucks, delivery trucks, and other types of large trucks are a frequent sight on Southern California roads and highways. According to the American Trucking Associations, large trucks transported 11.46 billion tons of freight in 2022 alone. 

While trucks serve a vital role in our economy, they also pose dangers to other vehicles. If a large truck collides with a passenger vehicle, it can lead to deadly results. One of the most dangerous and underreported types of truck accidents is a underride accident, where a passenger vehicle slides underneath the truck’s trailer. These accidents are particularly deadly because of the size difference between tractor trailers and passenger vehicles.

Truck underride accidents typically lead to severe and fatal injuries to the vehicle driver and passengers. If you or a loved one sustained injuries in an underride accident, contact our Riverside truck accident lawyer today. 


What Is An Underride Crash?

Underride protection
An underride crash occurs when a smaller vehicle hits a truck and slides underneath the trailer, either from the rear or the side. The impact of the crash can shear off the roof of the car and crush the passenger compartment. 

In these types of truck accidents, passenger vehicle occupants may suffer from catastrophic injuries or death. Due to the point of impact, airbags do little to protect passengers and may not even be deployed.

There are two types of truck underride accidents:

  • Side underride crash: Side underride collisions happen when a smaller vehicle hits the side of a truck. These underride accidents typically happen when a truck is crossing an intersection or making a U-turn. If the other driver is speeding or the truck driver runs a red light, the oncoming driver may collide with the truck’s side, resulting in a T-bone collision.
  • Rear underride crash: Rear underride collisions happen when a vehicle collides with the rear of the truck, causing the vehicle to slide under. This can happen if a truck driver slows down or exits a highway too slowly. The other driver’s actions, like speeding and tailgating, can also play a role in these types of collisions. 


Common Causes of Underride Accidents 

According to the latest data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 400 people died in underride crashes in 2021. However, the number of underride deaths is likely to be much higher. A report from ProPublica revealed years of government failure to prevent deadly crashes and improve safety. 

In underride accidents, sometimes the driver of the smaller vehicle is at fault. Other times, it is the negligence of the truck driver or trucking companies. Some of the most common causes of underride accidents are:

  • Speeding: Driving over the speed limit reduces the reaction time and braking distance of both the car and the truck drivers. This makes it harder to avoid a truck underride accident or stop in time.
  • Distracted driving: Taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off of driving can cause you to miss important cues, such as brake lights, turn signals, or traffic signs, and lead to a crash. Texting is one of the most dangerous behaviors, as it involves two types of distractions.
  • Impaired driving: Drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs have impaired judgment, coordination, vision, and reflexes. They are also more prone to exaggerated behavior. 
  • Poor visibility: Driving at night or bad weather conditions reduces visibility, making it harder to see and avoid a truck or its trailer. Studies reveal most underride accidents happen at night.
  • Improper lane changes: Changing lanes without checking the blind spots, signaling, or yielding can cause a car to collide with the side of a truck or its trailer, especially if the truck driver is turning or merging.
  • Following too closely: Tailgating can prevent a driver from seeing the road ahead, the traffic signals, or the brake lights of the truck, and increase the chance of a rear-end collision.
  • Running a red light or stop sign: Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign at an intersection almost always leads to severe injuries. Truck drivers who ignore traffic signs and signals can cause serious side underride crashes.


Rear Guards: Protection From an Underride Crash

Rear guards and side guards protect truck accident victims
It took a famous truck accident case to improve the safety of commercial trucks. In 1967, actress Jayne Mansfield, along with several other passengers, died after their car slammed into the back of a tractor trailer. Following her death, the NHTSA required all truck trailers to be equipped with rear underride guards. In 1996, the NHTSA further improved the safety of rear guards.

However, there are no federal requirements for side guards, which means that passenger vehicles do not have any protection if they collide with the side of a truck. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called on the NHTSA to install side guards for all tractor trailers. 


Talk to a Riverside Truck Accident Lawyer Today

Underride accidents in California
If you were involved in an underride crash, contact The Law Offices of Daniel Kim today. Our experienced truck accident legal team is here to help you recover the maximum possible compensation. If you suffered injuries due to the truck driver or truck company’s negligence, we will help you obtain justice. If you lost a loved one, we can help you recover compensatory damages in a wrongful death claim. 

Our personal injury law firm takes absolutely ZERO upfront legal fees for our services. If we don’t win a successful verdict for your case, you pay nothing. Call us for a no-risk free consultation at (951) 900-9402 or contact us online.