Underride Guards Can Save Lives
In the discussion of how to make construction trucking safer, some time has to be spent discussing solutions for underride accidents. An underride accident occurs when a sedan or low-riding vehicle slams into the side or rear of a tractor trailer. In most cases, the impact will be so significant that the the top of the vehicle will be opened like a tin can. Since most vehicles have their passenger’s heads close to the roof, these accidents often become deadly.
Current Methods of Prevention
The reason underride accidents occur is because drivers have a difficult time differentiating between the underside of a trailer and the open road. As you can imagine, a majority of these accidents occur in bad weather or at night time, but busy city streets have also seen their fair share of underride accidents as well.
Until recently, there were only limited solutions being offered to help prevent underride accidents. The most common solution being utilized to this point is a device called an underride skirt. This is a flexible piece of material that hangs from the bottom of the trailer to about one foot above the road to show the driver that they are about to hit a trailer. At night, these reflective devices are designed to give drivers plenty of notice that they are headed for an impact. Underride skirts help to a certain extent, but a new solution is being offered that promises to be more effective.
The Underride Guard
An underride guard is a device that is fitted to the sides and rear of a trailer, and actually stops a vehicle at impact before the top of the vehicle can be affected. When a vehicle hits the axle of a trailer, the vehicle is often spared the trauma of roof contact because it never gets past the wheel. With an underride guard, the concept is the same as the vehicle is phyiscally stopped from getting under the trailer and causing serious injuries.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has been testing underride guards and finds them an acceptable solution to this very real problem. Construction companies and trucking companies that work with construction customers should seriously consider underride guards as a way of decreasing risk when driving on the open road.
Not a Complete Solution
It should be noted that underride guards only attempt to lessen the injuries caused by underride accidents. In no way should anyone consider underride guards a complete solution to the problem. As long as there are distracted drivers who avoid warning signs and do not pay attention to what is on the road in front of them, there will be these types of horrible accidents for trucking and construction companies to deal with.
Sometimes the construction industry needs to protect the public from itself, and that is the intention of underride guards. Instead of a reflective curtain to warn drivers that they are getting too close to a tractor trailer, there is now a device that can reduce the potential for serious injury when the accident occurs. As risk management professionals, we understand the value of this kind of protection and recommend to all of our clients that they look into underride guards to lower their risk while transporting materials and equipment.