If you drive a smaller compact car, I’m sure you’ve had the experience of riding on the highway as a tractor trailer rumbles by and realizing you’re actually able to see under the trailer. You can see dangling chains and spare tires, as well as all the axles and moving parts. You might even find yourself wondering if your car could fit totally underneath the trailer.
In the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, the main character, played by Chevy Chase, finds himself accidentally swerving underneath a trailer in the opening scenes. This incident is played for laughs on the big screen, but the reality is much scarier. Every year, these so-called underride incidents occur in numerous tractor trailer accident cases, and often they have very serious consequences.
The reason for the danger is because the bed of a trailer is often higher than the hood of a standard passenger car. The front end of a car is designed to absorb impacts, but the windshield and frame that makes up the passenger compartment is not quite as sturdy. If a car were to drive underneath a tractor trailer, the bed of the trailer has a good chance of entering the passenger compartment and causing serious head and neck injuries. As you can imagine, these injuries are often fatal.
Because of the risk of underride accidents, federal regulations were put in place requiring all trailers to have a guard bar to prevent cars from wedging under the trailer in the event of a serious truck crash. This rear impact guard is designed to hit a passenger car’s front end, rather than the passenger compartment.
Occasionally, though, we see cases where these regulations are not properly followed. A tractor trailer may be missing this guard rail completely or the guard rail may be set to an improper height. The rear impact guard may also not be structurally sound due to excessive rust or damage from a previous accident. If the bar snaps off with minimal pressure, it’s just as bad as having no bar at all. In fact, it might be worse as now you have another piece of heavy debris that could potentially crash through the windshield and cause injury.
Investigating these details after a crash is important. It holds negligent trucking companies accountable and helps prevent these incidents in the future. If you have been involved in a wreck with a large commercial truck, consult a Missouri tractor trailer accident attorney as soon as possible to make sure your crash receives a thorough investigation.