Every year, at least 300 people die in underride crashes. North Carolina residents should know that these crashes occur when a motor vehicle collides with a large truck and slides under it. In such crashes, the vehicle's safety features are rendered useless. These crashes usually end in head or neck injuries or, in some cases, decapitation.
Currently, federal law requires large commercial trucks to have rear underride guards. However, many truck safety groups have been calling for an expansion of this rule in the effort to prevent underride crashes. On March 5, 2019, legislators from both the Senate and the House of Representatives introduced separate bills that, if passed, would provide just that.
The bipartisan legislation is called the Stop Underrides Act. It would require underride guards on the side and front of large trucks as well as update current standards for rearguards. Among the supporters of the bill are the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the Truck Safety Coalition and the Road to Zero Coalition, which is managed by the National Safety Council.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is one association that opposes the legislation. It states that the requirement would come with little added safety benefit and that, instead, it would cost truckers billions of dollars and make their navigation of high curbs, grade crossings and other road conditions more difficult.
Underride crashes can be some of the most severe of commercial truck accidents. If trucker negligence was behind the accident, those on the other side might be able to file a claim and be reimbursed for their injuries, vehicle damage and other losses. This is where a lawyer and his or her team of investigators might assist. Victims may leave all settlement negotiations to their lawyer and decide to take the case to court if negotiations fail.