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Many deadly underride collisions could be preventable

When large commercial vehicles collide with smaller passenger vehicles, the people in the smaller vehicles usually pay the price. Large commercial trucks can completely demolish smaller vehicles, resulting in catastrophic or fatal injuries to the passengers inside.

The sad truth about these kinds of crashes is that, in many cases, they could have been prevented. Collisions often result from inattentiveness on the part of one or more drivers involved. Fatigue, distraction and impairment can also contribute. Issues with the safety equipment on a commercial truck can also impact how severe a crash ends up being.

Some of the most dangerous and deadly crashes, known as underride crashes, are almost entirely preventable with proper equipment on a commercial truck.

What is an underride crash?

For those unfamiliar with the term "underride crash," it refers to a specific collision style where the larger commercial vehicle drives over the top of the smaller passenger vehicle. There are three different kinds of underride collisions.

Frontal underrides involve a commercial truck rear ending and then crushing a passenger vehicle by going up over it. Rear underride collisions happen when a passenger vehicle hits the back end of a commercial truck and gets pulled underneath the trailer or the wheels.

Finally, side underride collisions occur when a passenger vehicle slips under a commercial truck between the axles, often shearing off the roof of the vehicle in the process.

How can trucking companies prevent underride crashes?

While there is no way to completely avoid the risk of a collision, it is possible to minimize how severe the consequences of a crash turn out to be. Most underride collisions don't need to occur, even if a crash does happen between the passenger vehicle and a commercial vehicle.

Proper maintenance of vehicles is important to preventing a crash. Good brakes can make the difference between a safe trip and a collision. However, proper underride guards can also play a significant role in reducing the risk commercial trucks create. These guards effectively lower the clearance of the truck and prevent them from driving over the top of other vehicles.

A rear underride guard looks like a series of metal bars extending down from the trailer of the truck. They will demolish the front end of a passenger vehicle, but prevent it from sliding under and becoming totally crushed. Although these are legally required, companies often shirk their obligations by installing the cheapest and thinnest versions available, instead of the ones with the highest safety ratings.

Side underride guards, which are pieces of flexible metal that extend from under the trailer down toward the road are not obligatory for trucks in the United States. As a result, many companies do not pay for these important protections.

Victims and surviving family members can hold trucking companies responsible

All too often, commercial trucking companies put profit margins ahead of safety on the road. The average trip ends without consequence, but occasionally that decision has a cost in human lives or pain and suffering.

For those who wind up severely hurt or who lose a loved one because a trucking company installed inadequate underride guards or failed to install side underride guards, it may be possible to take legal action against the company for losses. Consulting with an experienced personal injury and truck accident attorney is the first step to take to determine what rights you have in Massachusetts.

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