The highways and roads throughout Lehigh Valley often are filled with motorists traveling on such busy thoroughfares as Interstate 78 and U.S. Route 22. A number of these vehicles include large trucks that weigh several tons, transporting cargo from destination to destination.
As a motorist, it is necessary to remain alert and cautious when sharing the road with these monstrous vehicles. An accident can occur abruptly during the day or night. And when a car collides with an 18-wheeler, the survival odds are not in the favor of the car’s driver or passengers. One type of accident that can prove fatal or lead to catastrophic injuries is an “underride” accident with a big-rig truck.
Survivors of victims seek additional changes
About 200 people die each year in underride accidents on U.S. roads. This type of accident occurs when a motor vehicle – usually a car, van, pick-up or SUV – skids or slides underneath a large truck, typically at the rear or from the side.
The government as well as the transportation industry are aware of these types of accidents and, through the years, have implemented certain safeguards on large trucks to prevent or minimize the damage from such accidents. But not enough has been done. Just ask survivors of victims either seriously injured or killed in such accidents. And, sometimes, negligence falls squarely on the trucking companies and their drivers.
After the 1967 death of actress Jayne Mansfield in an underride accident, the federal government implemented a rule that required the installation of rear underride guards on trailers. These guards consist of steel bars intended to stop smaller vehicles from skidding underneath the large truck.
Yet, today, such guards are on the sides of the big-rig trucks are not required. Safety advocates have long lobbied for this change, but still wait for action.
The public maintains a keen eye on developments regarding safety matters leading to fewer accidents and injuries with big-rig trucks. Many of the tragedies stemming from underride accidents could potentially be avoided.