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Each year, an estimated 200 people die in what is known as an “underride” accident with a large truck. Motorists must always be on the alert when sharing the roads and highways with these terrifically sized vehicles that weigh several tons. The outcome is usually never good. A collision with such large vehicles more than likely leads to serious and catastrophic injuries as well as death.

An underride accident occurs when a motor vehicle such as a car, SUV, van or pick-up slides or skids under a large-sized truck. These collisions typically happen in one of two ways: striking the rear or the side of a semi-trailer truck. Many times, such accidents are preventable, especially those caused by poorly and improperly equipped trucks and inexperienced truck drivers.

Accidents from the rear or side

One of the highest-profile underride accidents occurred in 1967, resulting in the death of actress Jayne Mansfield. Soon after that tragedy, the U.S. government ordered that trailers be fitted with rear underride guards. This mechanism is comprised of steel bars designed to prevent other vehicles from sliding underneath the truck.

But while this move likely prevented many deaths and catastrophic injuries throughout the country, it still is not enough. Side guards on large trucks are not required. Their installation also can make a great difference. Family members of these accident victims continue to seek better safety laws on this matter.

Here are some typical and dangerous scenarios involving underride accidents:

  • From the rear: Such collisions can occur due to reasons that include the large truck having insufficient markings as well as when truck drivers fail to turn on emergency flashers while entering and exiting roadways. These accidents also occur when a truck driver abruptly steps on the brakes, leading to any vehicle behind it crashing into it. Low visibility also plays a role.
  • From the side: As with crashes from the rear, low visibility also can be a factor. It is not uncommon for these accidents to occur at nighttime. Another vehicle can crash into slow-moving trucks as they cross a roadway or slowly turn.

While underride guards may prevent some of these accidents, others may be unavoidable due to negligence from trucking companies and inexperienced and reckless drivers.