Any accident involving any two vehicles can result in serious injuries and death for those involved. Car accidents involving large trucks are particularly dangerous for drivers of smaller vehicles, though, not only because of the sheer weight and size difference in the vehicles, but also because of the risk of the smaller vehicle being pinned underneath and crushed by the truck.

The risk of being pinned underneath a large truck in a rear-end collision prompted federal regulators years ago to require all trucks meeting a set weight specification to be fitted with rear impact protection, or underride guards. Federal law specifies that these guards meet certain width, height, surface, and installation requirements. Truck drivers and trucking employers who fail to equip their vehicles with these guards can face penalties. 

As much as rear underride guards have helped to prevent deadly accidents in some cases, safety advocates feel they don’t do enough and have been pushing for stricter underride guard regulations. Among the suggested changes is requiring the installation of side underride guards, which studies have shown can greatly reduce the risk of fatality and serious injury.

As with any suggestion of stricter safety requirements, the trucking industry has put up a certain amount of resistance, citing concerns over engineering challenges and costs. The chances that the regulatory environment in this area will drastically change anytime soon is unlikely, but this isn’t stopping safety advocates from working for improvement.

Whenever truck accidents occur, of course, it is important for crash victims and their families to work with an experienced attorney to thoroughly investigate the facts with an eye toward building a strong case for liability. In any truck accident case, particular emphasis should be put on violations of state and federal safety regulations, since these are not uncommon and can serve as an effective basis for assigning fault.

Source: 49 CFR 571.2224