Tennessee motorists share the state’s busy highways with tractor-trailers and other large trucks. The U.S. Government Accountability Office studied underride crashes, which occur when a passenger vehicle slides under a truck in a collision. 

Our firm represents clients injured in an accident with a big rig. 

Underride accidents pose serious risks 

Underride accidents may put you and your passengers at risk of serious injury or even death. The height difference between an 18-wheeler and your auto may allow the trailer or truck to encroach into the passenger compartment of your smaller vehicle. GAO research suggests that law enforcement underreports these collisions, as crash investigators may inconsistently collect and analyze relevant accident data. 

These collisions may involve the front, rear or side of a truck. You may have greater protection against rear underride crashes than side or front crashes because federal regulations require that trailers have crash-resistant rear guards. However, this requirement does not apply to single-unit trucks. Also, because federal authorities do not require annual inspections of rear guards, you may notice truckers driving tractor-trailers with damaged rear guards. While federal regulations do not currently require side or front  guards on any trucks, experts continue to research the cost and effectiveness of side guards. The trucking industry is resistant to attempts to require front guards. 

GAO recommendations may prevent, and improve reporting of, underride crashes 

GAO developed recommendations designed to reduce the risk of underride accidents and to improve reporting accuracy of these crashes: 

  • Mandate annual inspection guidelines for rear guards 
  • Continue research concerning side guards 
  • Encourage the adoption of a uniform definition of underride crashes 
  • Provide local law enforcement authorities with resources to help identify and categorize underride collisions 

An underride crash may have tragic consequences. Our website has information about gathering evidence after an accident with an 18-wheeler. 

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