Passing 18-wheelers on the highway makes some of us hold our breath with anxiety, and not without good reason. Truck accidents can be devastating: the trucks are large and can be hard to control, and the added mass means other cars hardly stand a chance in a collision.
In fact, the most deadly sort of collision occurs when a vehicle collides with the back or side of a semi-truck, as the vehicle is effectively sheared in half as it slides under the trailer. In an effort to make sharing the road with large trucks safer, legislation has been put in place to decrease the likelihood that accidents involving these massive trucks result in fatalities by requiring them to have underride guards.
Even with all possible precautions in place, accidents can still happen, and getting the help you need can feel impossible. Know, however, that there are people who can help. The Houston truck accident attorneys at Lapeze & Johns have the experience and the compassion needed to help you get the compensation you need.
What is an Underride Guard?
The front ends of most cars are low enough to the ground that they can easily fit under a trailer, especially when the impact occurs at the windshield and passenger area. Underride guards essentially block the space under the truck so that cars can’t fit under them.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), hundreds of preventable deaths occur each year because of underride crashes. As of 2019, these guards are required on the back, sides, and front of trucks, where previously, only a rearguard was required. It is worth noting that there is a phase-in period during which truckers may not be penalized for neglecting to fit their trucks with guards in order to encourage compliance.
Underride Guard Accidents By the Numbers
Nearly 20 percent of all truck accidents that occur in the U.S. each year involve vehicles colliding with the back end of a semi. These accidents can be caused by distracted driving on the part of either driver in the truck or car; perhaps the truck driver wasn’t paying enough attention and had to stop suddenly, or the driver of the car could have been distracted and not realized that the truck ahead was reducing speed.
These accidents can be understandably deadly, but underride guards make a big difference. After the law requiring rearguards was enacted in 2012, underride fatalities decreased by a significant 20 percent in the first year and continued to decrease after that. With this new law coming into effect in the coming years, even more injury and death may be prevented.
The Fight for Driver Safety
Rearguards of some kind have been required since 1953, and by 2019, standards had fallen behind after no new regulations were passed for more than two decades. Updates to the legislation never passed due to resistance from the trucking industry, as many carriers and trucking companies complained that the added cost and weight were too much to handle.
However, experts knew that the underride crash fatalities are preventable. Activists and safety institutes worked hard in tandem to ensure new rules were put in place that required not only rearguards but front and side guards as well.
Your Houston Area Truck Accident Lawyers: Lapeze & Johns
It can be hard to determine what regulations apply to what large truck accidents and their specific circumstances, but with an experienced truck accident lawyer like those at Lapeze & Johns, navigating the legal system in your fight to get you the financial relief you deserve is made easy.