The Anatomy of an Underride Guard: What it Takes to Prevent a Deadly Underride Truck Accident

Earlier this week, we discussed horrific underride truck accidents. These accidents occur when a car hits a tractor trailer from the back or side, and subsequently slides wholly or partially under the trailer.

If you’re seeing the visual in your head—most trailers sit off the ground at about your eye level while seated in a car—you are right to shudder at the thought of one of these accidents. Trailers are just at the right height to bypass your car’s important impact and crush zones, which leaves nothing between your vehicle’s occupants and the trailer edge but your windshield.

What Can Underride Guards Do?

You may have seen the steel bar that hangs below a trailer’s rear edge—that is not a step or a structural necessity, but rather an underride guard. These bars are meant to prevent your car from sliding under the trailer in a crash, and these devices often save lives.

Unfortunately, many underride guards are simply not performing to standards that would let you rest easy. When cars hit these bars head-on travelling at about 35mph, the majority of them will prevent or lessen an underride. When the car overlaps the guard by 50% or less, the odds of an underride increased significantly.

Not All Underride Guards Were Created Equal

In cases of 50% or less overlap, the force imposed on the guard becomes unequal. Usually these guards are comprised of one horizontal bar and two vertical supports. In a head-on rear end collision with 100% overlap, the entire guard is able to distribute forces. Once a car reaches less than 50% overlap, however, the force is focused on the outer edge of the horizontal bar, which can bend and allow a car to slide partially under the trailer.

One common design flaw with many U.S. trailer underride guards seems to be that the vertical supports are too far from the edges of the horizontal bar to be effective in a crash with less than 50% overlap. More successful designs move the vertical supports closer to the edge of the trailer, which helps absorb much of the impact and prevents the horizontal bar from bending.

If you have been hurt in an underride truck accident in the Augusta area, our firm can help you get the compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries. To schedule your free consultation, contact attorney Chris Hudson today by phone or by filling out the short online contact form.

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