What are truck underride accidents?

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2024 | Car Accident Injuries, Semitruck & 18-wheeler Accident Injuries |

A number of highways run through Vermont, and a high percentage of the traffic on those highways are trucks. In addition, trucks can be found anywhere commerce is taking place, from stores to warehouses to places of business. And these trucks present unique hazards to other drivers.

One of the deadliest types of accidents involving a truck are underride accidents. In an underride accident, a smaller vehicle will pass partially or fully beneath the body of a truck trailer, and can create horrifying truck accident injuries.

The mechanics of an underride accident

Part of the reason that underride accidents happen is due to the engineering of vehicles, both trucks and passenger vehicles. The height of many truck trailers is such that the bottom of the trailer is roughly the same height as the top half of a sedan or smaller passenger vehicle.

The top portion of a sedan has very little substance relative to the mass of a truck trailer, meaning that the trailer can shear off the top of the smaller vehicle very easily, even at relatively lower speeds. Tragically, this can often cause great damage to the occupants of that smaller vehicle.

Why do underride accidents happen?

The most common cause of underride accidents is related to visibility. In general, they occur because the truck is attempting some maneuver (like crossing an intersection, changing lanes or making a turn) and a passenger vehicle doesn’t properly see the truck.

Intuitively, it would seem like a massive truck/trailer is difficult not to see. But several factors can make it more difficult than you’d expect. The biggest factor is low-light conditions. Most underride accidents happen at night or when visibility is poor. Additionally, conditions where the truck tends to blend in with the surrounding background increase underride risk. An example might be areas near truck stops or fuel stations, where signage and lighting can provide a confusing backdrop for spotting a nearby truck.

Underride accidents are one of the more dangerous accidents, posing grave risks to smaller passenger vehicles. It’s crucial to always pay extra attention to any trucks in your vicinity, especially in conditions that make visibility more difficult.