Underride accidents increase risk of fatal injuries in Chicago trucking accidents

Motorists are at high risk of fatal injuries in Chicago car accidents involving rear-end collisions with tractor-trailers, according to new research released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Our Chicago trucking accident attorneys understand the risk posed to motorists by large commercial trucks on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that large commercial trucks are involved in nearly 400,000 accidents each year. More than 4,000 motorists were killed in such crashes in 2008; in three-quarters of those cases the victims were occupants of passenger vehicles or non-occupants, such as bicyclists and pedestrians.
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Now the IIHS reports antiquated underride guards may result in serious or fatal injuries to motorists involved in rear-end collisions with commercial trucks; 80 percent of the rear-end collisions examined in the study resulted in underride, which substantially increases the risk of injury to occupants of passenger cars. In just 1 in 5 cases did rear-end collisions not result in a car being forced beneath the semi.

“Cars’ front-end structures are designed to manage a tremendous amount of crash energy in a way that minimizes injuries for their occupants,” says Adrian Lund, Institute president. “Hitting the back of a large truck is a game changer. You might be riding in a vehicle that earns top marks in frontal crash tests, but if the truck’s underride guard fails – or isn’t there at all – your chances of walking away from even a relatively low-speed crash aren’t good.”

The Institute has been studying the issue since the 1970s; the latest report found rules had not been updated since 1996 and most guards did not protect the entire rear of a truck, leaving motorists particularly vulnerable to underride crashes when striking a trailer at an angle. As a result, the group is petitioning the NHTSA to mandate better protection.

“Underride standards haven’t kept pace with improvements in passenger vehicle crashworthiness,” Lund said. “Absent regulation, there’s little incentive for manufacturers to improve underride countermeasures, so we hope NHTSA will move quickly on our petition.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer in Chicago, contact Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win