The Problem With Trailer Underride Accidents

As a professional risk management organization that services the construction industry, we are well aware of the different kinds of dangers associated with construction work. We are also well-acquainted with the many dangers that the general public is unaware of, and we work hard to help our clients reduce those risks.

According to the United States government, approximately 200 people are killed every year in accidents with big rig construction trailers. Not only are these accidents entirely too prevalent, they can also be quite gruesome. It is our goal to continue to work with our client and the construction industry to find solutions to what are commonly referred to as underride accidents.

Defining Underride Accidents

An underride accident can be classified as either a side or rear underride accident, depending on where the vehicle struck the trailer. These accidents occur when passenger vehicles or small commercial vehicles collide into the side or rear of a big rig trailer. While these big rigs could be carrying materials for just about any industry, the majority of these accidents involve trailers carrying construction equipment.

While underride accidents can occur with both box and flatbed trailers, they usually happen with the flatbeds. These accidents occur during all hours of the day, but they most frequently occur at night, and on very bright, sunny days. Darkness can often make seeing trailers difficult for some drivers, and the bright sunshine causes a glare that can distract drivers.

Understanding Underride Accidents

For many sedan type vehicles, the bottom of a truck trailer is in a perfect position to peel the top of the car off like a tin can. Unfortunately, these vehicles are also designed to have most adult and older children in such a position where their heads are in the line of the collision. Some baby seats can also put small children in the path of the collision as well.

Taller vehicles offer some level of protection to the heads of the vehicle occupants, but their bodies are often in line to take the brunt of the impact. An underride collision in an area of the trailer where there is nothing to stop the progress of the vehicle as it hits the trailer can be extremely devastating. If the vehicle hits the wheel areas of a trailer, then the damage can be minimized somewhat, but the results are still catastrophic.

Blending in with the Background

These accidents occur for many reasons, but one key factor is the color of most tractor trailers. Despite the fact that most trailers have many lights and reflectors, their gray color matches the road to the point where drivers in adverse weather conditions can be fooled. With the sun glaring in a car driver’s eyes, a tractor trailer can be hard to distinguish from the road.

The battle to reduce or eliminate underride accidents has been going on for years, and there has been new technology introduced recently that could help. Until now, undercarriage curtains have been used to try and help drivers to differentiate between the road and a trailer. But those curtains have proven to be ineffective, so other measures are being developed. The more aware construction companies are of this very real threat to the safety of the general public, the more that can be done to help stop these sorts of tragedies.