Dangers of Truck Underride Accidents in Chicago

Not all car accidents are the same. It is a simple statement but one that needs to be understood for the sake of all those who use the streets, expressways, and interstates in and around Chicago. Fortunately, a number of collisions that happen annually are minor and cause only damage to the vehicles involved, sparing drivers and passengers from any harm. Unfortunately, the remaining incidents can cause a range of injuries that may leave a victim in need of immediate medical help or that may even claim her life.

Car accidents regularly range from the very minor to the extremely critical, but when it comes to a truck accident, there is far less variability. Truck accidents and collisions are less common than those only involving cars in Illinois but they are disproportionately responsible for traffic-related injuries and fatalities here and across the county. The physics behind these incidents are simple: trucks are large, heavy vehicles that take a long time to start and stop. When they are traveling at a moderate or high speed and collide with a vehicle much smaller than them, the forces involved in the incident will cause heavy damage to the smaller vehicles, threatening the safety of those inside the cars.

One of the most troubling types of truck incidents continues to be truck underride accidents, a type of collision where a passenger vehicle goes partially or entirely under a truck or trailer. These crashes lead to damage to the passenger compartment of the vehicle, increasing the odds of an injury or death among those in the vehicle.

Typically, an underride incident involving a truck occurs when a smaller car strikes the rear of a tractor trailer. As the edge of a trailer extends beyond the truck’s tires, a car can ride underneath the rear of the trailer and not stop until it collides with the tires, causing damage to the car’s hood, windshield, roof, and passenger compartment. To limit these underride incidents, the national government issued requirements related to underride guards, a horizontal metal bar that extends below the lower edge of a trailer to stop a car before it can collide with a truck’s tires.

Yet these underride guards are not perfect. They can withstand collisions at lower and some moderate speeds but may be less effective at higher speeds and they work predominately when a vehicle strikes the rear of a truck in a straight-on impact. If a car collides with the side of the rear of a truck, if it strikes at an angle, or if there is an incident where a car strikes the side of a trailer, there can still be an underride accident.

New regulations are being considered to widen the types of vehicles covered by mandatory underride guard laws and other regulations are being considered to strengthen the guards as they exist presently. Until a guaranteed fix can be instituted, though, these collisions will keep happening in Chicago and will keep threatening the safety of our residents.

While victims of truck accidents in Illinois can make a claim for their damages to recover financially, nothing can undo harm once it has occurred and it is always best to avoid an accident whenever possible.

Prior Blog Entry:

Car Accidents Anticipated with Rain on the Way, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 6, 2016.


Truck underride roundtable addresses problem of deadly crashes, IIHS News, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, published May 6, 2016.

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