Nothing is more terrifying than the thought of rear-ending a tractor trailer that has stopped suddenly in front of you. Our Greensboro personal injury lawyers know the devastating injuries caused by a passenger car involved in a North Carolina trucking accident.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), confirms that all too often, the underride guards fail to keep vehicles from going under the trailer in a rear-end crash. Serious injuries and many times death from decapitation occurs from the vehicle being sliced in half.
What is an underride guard? It is those flimsy pieces of metal that hang under the back of a tractor trailer.
In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 4,066 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes. Over 4,200 people died in those crashes and another 90,000 were injured. In large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 74% of the deaths were occupants of another vehicle. In a two-vehicle crash, large trucks are 3 times more likely to be rear ended than other vehicles. Of the 1,892 vehicles involved in fatal crashes in North Carolina, 143 were large trucks.
The IIHS looked at 1,000 real crashes, from 2001 through 2003, where 115 involved a vehicle rear-ending a tractor trailer. In those crashes there were 28 occupant deaths. In 23 of the 28 cases where an occupant was killed there was catastrophic underride. Only 25 cases had no underride at all.
The IIHS conducted its own testing using 3 trailer guards that comply with the current U.S. rules. Two of the trailers were also in compliance with the more stringent rules of Canada that exceed the U.S. standards for strength and energy absorption.
In tests that involved a vehicle traveling at 35 mph crashing into the guard dead center, only 1 guard (that met Canadian standards) kept the vehicle from going under the truck. When any of the guards were hit off center, severe underride took place.
“Under current certification standards, the trailer, underride guard, bolts, and welding don’t have to be tested as a whole system. That’s a big part of the problem. Some manufacturers do test guards on the trailer. We think all guards should be evaluated this way. Underride standards haven’t kept pace with improvements in passenger vehicle crashworthiness. Absent regulation, there’s little incentive for manufacturers to improve underride countermeasures, so we hope NHTSA will move quickly on our petition,” says Adrian Lund, Institute president.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, contact our personal injury lawyers in Charlotte, Asheville and Greensboro. Call Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965.