In an effort to reduce the number of serious, rear-impact tractor-trailer accidents, federal officials are considering requiring commercial truck drivers to install stronger rear-impact guards on their vehicles.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced the proposal. If the proposed regulations go into effect, tractor-trailers nationwide would have to be equipped with rear-impact guards which remain in place in crashes of up to 35 mph. Currently, tractor-trailer rear-impact guards are required to withstand a 30 mph crash, according to a recent announcement issued by the NHTSA.
Experienced truck accident attorney Gene S. Hagood - who has handled many tractor-trailer accidents in Texas - knows safety enhancements such as stronger rear-impact guards will save lives. Rear-end accidents are among the most common types of collisions and can be extremely dangerous when trucks are involved.
What is an underride truck accident?
Underride truck accidents occur when the front end of a vehicle crashes into the rear-end of a tractor-trailer truck. Specifically, the front end of the smaller vehicle slides under the tractor-trailer and becomes trapped or crushed underneath the trailer, often resulting in serious injuries and fatalities.
Such accidents occur for many different reasons. Sometimes, weather can be a factor (rainy or icy roads). Other times, a driver might be distracted and drive into the back of a truck. Underride accidents also sometimes occur when a truck crashes into another car or fixed structure and a third vehicle behind the truck crashes into the back of the truck.
In theory, rear-impact guards on the back of tractor-trailers should prevent such accidents from happening. However, many existing, rear-impact guards do not withstand crashes involving smaller cars, according to several studies, including one conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2011.
'What can I do prevent an underride truck accident?'
The best thing drivers can do to avoid an underride truck accident is to leave a safe distance (2 to 3 seconds) between their vehicle and a tractor-trailer in front of them.
Truck companies also have a responsibility to install strong rear-impact guards and to properly maintain their trucks. This includes making sure the truck's brakes work properly as well as its rear brake lights.
Unfortunately, accidents involving commercial trucks often occur. In Texas, more than 500 people each year die in accidents involving large, commercial trucks, according to the NHTSA.
Dealing with trucking companies after a serious accident can sometimes be very difficult. Sometimes, truck drivers or trucking companies refuse to cooperate with an accident investigation. If you or a loved one has been injured in an underride truck accident in Texas, contact the Law Offices of Gene S. Hagood. We have decades of experience and offer a free case evaluation to all potential clients. Contact us online or call (800) 632-9404 right now.