Although truck accidents aren’t as common as car accidents, they are more fatal according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). One factor that contributes to this is the high fatality rate of underride collisions. 

Underride collisions are one of the most horrific and deadly types of crashes. Underride collisions occur when a vehicle collides with a semi-trailer at such force that it becomes lodged underneath the truck—causing large amounts of damage and a significant risk of death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), estimates that nearly 2,000 underride fatalities occur each year in the United States, making up about 25 percent of all truck accident fatalities. The gruesome nature of these types of collisions, as well as the fact that they can be prevented, makes them extremely scary.

Fatal Risks of Underrride Collisions

Recent crash studies by the National Institute of Health focus on three varying types of underride collisions and their risks for fatal injuries. These types include: straight rear-end collisions, angled or diagonal rear-end collisions, and side-impact collisions. The following is a brief overview:

  • Straight rear-end collisions (SRE). SREs are the most dangerous, and unfortunately, most common underride collisions. They result in a nearly 80 percent fatality rate and cause the most amount of damage. An SRE occurs when a car slams into the back of a truck and the front of the car manages to get jammed under the trailer. The weight of the truck nearly always sheers off the top of the car, resulting in either passengers becoming crushed by the force, or decapitated.
  • Side-impact collision. Side-impact collisions are slightly less fatal than SREs due to the mere fact that depending on which side is crushed, the seat has a chance to be empty. For example, if a driver was alone in the car and collided into the left side of the trailer, he has a good chance that only the right side of his car (the passenger’s side) will be damaged, increasing his odds of survival. In an SRE, the entire front will most likely be damaged decreasing his odds of survival.
  • Side or diagonal rear-end collisions (DRE). DREs are the least fatal underride collisions due to the fact that—if you’re lucky—your car will jam into the truck’s rear axle, preventing you from crashing deeper under the trailer. Approximately 10 percent of underride accidents are diagonal rear-end collisions.

Knowing the Risks to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Underride collisions are extremely gruesome and unfortunately difficult to survive. This is why it is extremely important to pay attention, follow truck safety guidelines, and be aware of your risks when driving near semi-trucks.

Now that you know your risks, make sure your family and loved ones know theirs. Share this page on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus to help promote safety awareness, and hopefully aid in decreasing truck accident injuries and fatalities. Remember, they may not know their risks until it’s too late—by clicking the media icons, you can help prevent a tragic accident.

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