Collisions with a tractor-trailer or elevated straight truck can send small vehicles under the larger truck and shear off the top half of the vehicle. Since the point of impact is much higher, this can injure and kill passengers without activating standard safety equipment, such as airbags and safety harnesses. However, regulatory agencies are working to address this issue with the use of rear-mounted guards that lower the point of impact. Recent tests confirm the benefits of side-mounting underride guards as well.
The tests were run by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which produced a video showing the difference guards can make in a tractor-trailer crash with a passenger automobile. In a straight collision, such as may occur during a truck jackknife, the midsize vehicle is prevented from going under the trailer, and there is activation of the front airbag.
These benefits were referred to as similar to those offered by rear-mounted guards. The IIHS director claims that underride guards for the rear and side would reduce the risk of death in a semi truck crash. A mandate for rear-mounted, underride guards has yet to be finalized.
Occupants of a passenger vehicle or even larger non-passenger autos are at serious risk of permanent disability and death from a tractor-trailer crash. Families and survivors can face an enormous amount of pain and suffering, which may hamper their need for a thorough investigation and fair settlement. Legal counsel can take on the burden of following the police investigation, gathering documents and identifying all potential sources of compensation for the victims.