Underride Collision with Tractor Trailer

With winter is upon us, it’s time to reconsider our driving habits.  This is especially true if you have young drivers.  The arrival of snow and ice makes any trip more dangerous.  If your trip causes you to share the road with tractor trailers, you should be thinking about stopping distances.  The risk of an underride collision rises the closer you are to the tractor trailer.

Avoiding an underride collision with a tractor trailer

What’s an Underride Collision?

Tractor Trailers pose an inherent risk because the under-side of their trailers are much higher than the bumpers on other vehicles.  In a rear-end collision, or side impact collision, cars could ride up underneath the trailer.  An underride collision can cause severe and potentially fatal injuries to the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle.

Hollywood starlet, Jane Mansfield and two other passengers were killed in an underride collision in 1967.  Because of the publicity the case received, and the work of very skilled personal injury attorneys, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandated the use of underride bars on tractor trailers.  The bars are sometimes called “Mansfield Bars.”  These “Mansfield bars” are a good example of how the personal injury justice system helps to make all of us safer. 

Here’s a brief video from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which explains how various underride bars are being tested:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQytMRlJkgw

The various organizations influencing trucking safety rules and regulations continue to look for ways to improve the safety of tractor trailers, but a significant part of the risk management is up to us, as drivers.

3 Ways to Reduce the Risk of an Underride Collision

As the weather worsens, we need to focus on 3 important actions.  If you’re a parent, again, please consider sharing these with your teen drivers.

  1. Avoid distractions – Cell phones are a leading contributing factor in automobile wrecks.  Taking your eyes off the road, including the vehicles around you, will decrease your reaction time and may have fatal consequences.  Turn off or silence your phone or activate the “do not disturb while driving” setting.
  2. Increase your distance – If you’re following a semi-truck, you may not see what’s happening further up the road.  The truck may need to make a sudden stop (a common factor in an underride collision).  If you allow enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you, you may be able to stop in time.  Note:  If the roads are icy, snow-covered or wet from rain, remind your young driver the car will add additional distance to come to a stop.
  3. Reduce your speed – Many drivers commonly exceed posted speed limits.  In poor weather conditions, water, snow and ice will can cause the tires to skid and slide.  Your car’s velocity will make it even more difficult to safely bring the vehicle to a complete stop.  By reducing your speed, you reduce the distance required for a safe stop.  This is especially important when following a tractor trailer.

As a Calloway County personal injury attorney, I’ve handle many tractor trailer wrecks.  These wrecks may not be 100% avoidable, but the risk can be reduced if you remember the three simple tips, above.

If you or your family members are involved in a Kentucky trucking accident, I have the experience and knowledge to properly handle this complex type of case.  Contact my office via this website, or call us at (270) 753-0053. I’ll take the time to answer your questions and explain our critical first steps.