When looking at the sheer size and weight of an 18-wheeler, it is easy to see why in an accident, the semi-truck usually “wins.” In an accident involving these large vehicles, the truck often sustains little damage while the other vehicles involved are obliterated.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s latest report found that, in 2017, more than 4,000 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks – with most of those fatalities being occupants of passenger vehicles. A contributing factor in the United States is the prevalence of what is known as “underride accidents,” crashes where a smaller vehicle becomes trapped underneath a semi’s trailer.

Why are crashes involving semis so deadly?

When a passenger vehicle collides with a tractor-trailer, the car is often pulled underneath the semi and its safety features rendered worthless. At highway speeds, the trailer can even shear off the top of the vehicle – causing fatal head injuries and even decapitation.

Congress considering increase in safety measures for semis

Families who have lost loved ones to underride accidents traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to advocate for a law requiring underride guards on the side of semi-trailers. Under current federal law, trucks must utilize guards on the back of semis, but not on the sides. Some trucking companies opt to mount guards on the sides of their trailers; however, without a standard to follow these guards can easily fail.

Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2017 found that durable underride guards on the side of a semi-trailer reduce fatalities by almost 90%. However, opponents in the trucking industry claim increased safety requirements will adversely affect costs and vehicle weight.

Victims of underride accidents and their families deserve zealous representation to aid in their recovery. If someone close to you was injured or killed in an accident with a semi-trailer, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about your options.