The Risk of Underride Collisions
Big rigs get a bad rap for causing collisions resulting in catastrophic injury and death. One of the most dangerous risks involving 18-wheelers is underride collisions.
An underride collision occurs when a smaller vehicle is caught underneath the trailer of an 18-wheeler. This may result in the smaller vehicle being caught under the trailer for several feet before the 18-wheeler is able to come to a stop. Often, the roof of the vehicle is stripped from the frame, leaving passengers exposed and creating the risk of serious head trauma—even decapitation.
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a requirement for stronger rear impact guards on the backs of trailers to provide better protection in the event of a collision. Current regulations require rear impact guards for most trailers, but tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revealed that the rear impact guards on most trailers could be improved.
To reduce the risk of an underride collision, motorists should keep a safe distance from 18-wheelers. Many trailers have signs recommending that vehicles stay a certain distance away to create a safe breaking distance. Rainy conditions pose a greater risk because of reduced visibility and longer braking distances.