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Weak Trucking Safety Standards Put Cars at Greater Risk

Written by Tom Crosley
Trucking Accidents, Vehicle Wrecks

Photo credit: ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd. / Foter / CC BY-SA

It should come as no surprise that drivers and passengers in cars are at a much higher risk for injury or death when they are involved in a collision with a semi truck. In fact, if a car collides with another vehicle, like an SUV, that is only 1,000 pounds heavier, the occupants of the car are 47% more likely to die in the crash. Loaded semi trucks can weigh up to 76,000 pounds more than the average passenger vehicle, and somewhere between 70 and 85 percent of semis on the road are loaded. Needless to say, a car’s occupants need all the safety benefits possible in the event of a crash with a big rig.

One particular type of car/truck collision is extremely dangerous: underrides. Underrides occur when a car approaches from the rear of a large truck and slides under the trailer. Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that the number of deaths and the severity of injuries resulting from these types of crashes could both be reduced if stronger underride guards were installed on semi trucks.

Although underride guards are already installed on all trucks because federal law requires it, crash testing has revealed that they are not adequate enough – even at very low speeds – to prevent catastrophic damage to cars that collide with the trailer. This is partially due to the conflicting safety design features of cars and trucks. Cars have been designed to have the front end crumple in order to absorb as much energy from a collision as possible and thus prevent injury to the automobile’s occupants. Unfortunately, in an underride scenario, the front of the car, which usually absorbs the force of a crash, slides under the truck trailer and offers none of its usual protective benefits.

Crash tests have also shown that vehicles crashing into trailers equipped with guards that meet more rigid Canadian standards suffer far less damage to occupants. This is due to the fact that the Canadian government requires stronger, firmer underride guards. With this one small change to United States trucking safety regulation, there is no doubt that lives could be saved and injuries could be prevented. To learn more about this issue and see some of the compelling footage from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, you can click here.

If you’ve been injured in a collision with any kind of vehicle – contact Crosley Law Firm right away. We have the knowledge and experience to understand, explain, and handle your case, and we have a network of engineering experts who will use information about your crash to reconstruct exactly what happened before, during, and after the wreck. You can learn more about how we use state-of-the-art accident reconstruction technology on our website, and you can reach us by calling our toll free number and scheduling your free consultation: (877) 535-4529. Contact us today!


Freakonomics. (2011, July 29). Killer cars: An extra 1,000 pounds increases crash fatalities by 47%. Freakonomics. Retrieved from http://freakonomics.com/2011/07/29/killer-cars-an-extra-1000-pounds-increases-crash-fatalities-by-47/

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