An underride accident happens when a smaller vehicle hits the rear of a semi-truck, tractor-trailer, or another type of 18-wheeler and slides underneath it.
Often, the smaller vehicle will be propelled forward with such force that the vehicle's cab is sheared off, killing the occupants or leaving them with severe and sometimes permanent injuries.
To help reduce the risk of fatal underride accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a "final rule" about underride guards on tractor-trailers.
Some traffic safety advocates have said they are grateful for the improvement, but the rule does not go far enough to decrease truck accident deaths significantly.
Will this new rule make Texas highways safer?
Underride accidents are among the deadliest types of semi-truck wrecks. Researchers estimate that 80-90 percent of underride truck accidents are fatal, and hundreds of people die in such wrecks yearly.
An underride accident can happen for a variety of reasons. For example, a semi-truck could brake suddenly. Or the truck brakes, but its tail lights or brake lights are not working correctly, severely reducing the trailer's visibility to other drivers.
New NHTSA rule
The new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rule would require trucks to have underride guards. They would reduce fatal truck accidents by stopping the smaller vehicle from sliding underneath the truck before the cab makes contact with the rear.
The rule sets standards for how strong the guard must be. For example, underride guards must withstand the impact of a rear-end hit by a compact or subcompact passenger vehicle traveling at 35 mph.
More work to be done?
It is worth noting that the "final rule" isn't as fixed as the name sounds. Once the NHTSA publishes it, there will be a 45-day period where people can petition to change the new rule. After that, truck owners will be given two years to comply.
Safety advocates who say the rule will not do enough to protect others note that most trucks and big rigs already have underride guards. Others say they were disappointed that language wasn't added to require side underride guards. These would stop a car from sliding underneath a truck from the side. Right now, only rear guards are required.
Protect your rights with a truck accident attorney.
If you were injured or a loved one died in an underride accident or another type of 18-wheeler wreck in Texas, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. An experienced truck accident lawyer can thoroughly investigate the accident and advocate for your best interests.
Attorney Jeff Weinstein has more than 20 years of experience fighting for the injured in Henderson County. Whether it's through a negotiated settlement or a jury award, Jeff will fight for the best possible outcome for your case. He will guide you through every step of the legal process. You will also have his cell phone number; you can call him anytime if you have questions or concerns.
Weinstein Law has recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients. Find out what we can do for you, and contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Serving Henderson County and the larger region, we are located in Athens, TX.