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Every driver should take steps to avoid underriding crashes

When a semi-trailer and a passenger vehicle collide, the occupants of the passenger vehicle are usually more vulnerable than the truck driver. Occupants of passenger vehicles usually receive severe injuries in semi-trailer crashes, if they survive at all.

The occupants of passenger vehicles are so vulnerable in crashes involving semi-trailers because semi-trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles weigh and are positioned higher off the ground that passenger vehicles are. This higher ground clearance can be especially hazardous because it allows for a particularly catastrophic type of crash called underriding.

What is underriding?

Underriding occurs when a passenger vehicle slides or is pushed underneath a semi-trailer. This can occur when the passenger vehicle is following a semi-trailer too closely, the truck driver slams on the breaks and the passenger vehicle goes under the rear of the trailer.

How can underriding be prevented?

Semi-trailers should have underride guards installed on the rear end to help prevent underriding incidents. However, sometimes these guards break off during a crash, so everyone who shares the road with semi-trailers should still prioritize safe driving habits.

Safe habits include:

  • Leaving plenty of space between vehicles
  • Staying out of the semi-trailer’s blind spots
  • Maintaining full attention on the road when driving

Safe driving habits can reduce your chance of being in a crash with a semi-trailer. However, some semi-trailer crashes are caused by the negligent actions of truck drivers. If you or a loved one are injured because of the negligent actions of a truck driver, it may be appropriate to take legal action. You may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and other costs associated with the injury.