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Why Are Undercarriage Truck Accidents So Deadly?

Published on Jun 28, 2018 by Thomas Law Offices.

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It’s not often that you see something bigger on the road than a tractor-trailer. Accidents involving these lumbering vehicles, especially undercarriage accidents, result in thousands of wrongful deaths each year. There are many reasons why these wrecks occur; however, there are ways to decrease and even prevent the unnecessary loss of so many lives.

2016 Missouri Truck Accident Statistics  

Below you’ll find just some of the staggering statistics reported by the National Highway Safety Administration related to Missouri truck accidents in 2016. In this case, a truck is defined as weighing more than 10,000 pounds, excluding buses and motorhomes.

  • 1,294 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes.
  • As a result, 114 people were killed.
  • 17 percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 66 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 16 percent were pedestrians and cyclists.
  • 11 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths involved a large truck.
  • 73 percent of deaths in large truck crashes were in crashes involving tractor-trailers and 21 percent were in wrecks involving single-unit trucks.

Reasons Why Undercarriage Accidents Happen

Undercarriage collisions occur when a smaller vehicle rear ends or collides into the side of a semi and becomes wedged underneath the trailer. These types of accidents are almost always catastrophic, if not fatal. Below you’ll find some of the most common reasons these accidents occur.

  • Unprotected Undercarriages. Protective undercarriage equipment, like the kind mandated in the United Kingdom, is viewed as an expense rather than an investment in the United States.
  • Blind Spots. There are four crucial blind spots for trucks: the front up to twenty feet, the direct left lane, up to two lanes on the right side, and up to 30 feet behind. It’s best to stay as far ahead or as far behind a truck as possible. When passing, try to do so quickly.
  • Speeding. Too many people choose to speed on interstates and backroads, alike; however, when tractor-trailers speed the consequences can be far deadlier. 22 percent of truck drivers in fatal crashes had at least one prior speeding conviction.
  • Distraction. Truck drivers are often under strict time restraints on the road. This can make tasks like eating, drinking, and texting seem like too much of a hassle to stop for.
  • Poor Visibility. Poor visibility is primarily an issue at night and in inclement weather.
  • Lack of Legislation. No official government legislation has been passed requiring that undercarriages have protective equipment installed, except for Rear Underrun Protection Systems – which are installed on the back of the vehicle.
  • Multicar Pileups. In the event of a multicar pileup, a tractor-trailer may collide with the back of a vehicle or the car behind a tractor-trailer will hit the rear end.
  • Sleep Deprivation. Truck drivers are often on the road for too many hours at a time. If they’re worried about meeting a deadline, the idea to drive straight through might occur. Even dozing off for split second while driving can cause devastating results.

Ways to Decrease the Number of Truck Accidents

The implementation of legislation requiring complete undercarriage protection is the first step towards decreasing the number of truck accidents and the unnecessary loss of lives. While rear collision protection systems are in place, many undercarriage accidents occur from the side. Boston saw a decline in truck-related fatalities in 2014 when they imposed a city-wide law stating all city-owned and contracted vehicles and semis were required to have sideguards.

All drivers can benefit from avoiding distractions and speeding, making sure their vehicle has proper headlights, and driving only when feeling awake and alert.

Unfortunately, whether the victim of an undercarriage truck accident is a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian, in the end, the truck wins. If you or a loved one are a victim of such a devastating accident, contact our office today. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help guide you through the stress of insurance companies and medical bills, so you can focus on your recovery.


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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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