Georgia residents who drive on the interstate have seen for themselves how much higher the bottom of commercial truck trailers and beds are than the bumpers of ordinary cars. This mismatch in height of the “crush structures” of two vehicles highlights the risk of underride accidents.
In underride accidents, the lower-profile passenger car goes underneath the higher-profile commercial truck, causing impact to the car not at the bumper, but often on the hood or windshield. These accidents are the most severe highway accidents.
Both houses of Congress introduced the Stop Underrides Act
In 2019, sponsors in both the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced legislation to require underride guards on commercial trucks. Despite bipartisan support, the bill remains in committee and is unlikely to be enacted. Though some commercial trucks have underride guards, not all of them do. Therefore, drivers still risk underride accidents.
Liability is widespread for underride accidents
When underride accidents happen, vehicle liability insurance distributes the liability among the insurers that cover the private vehicle and the commercial truck. Health insurance may fill in some coverage gaps, and often, government programs must assist people who can no longer work due to accident injuries. The costs are often catastrophic.
Other legislative and industry efforts may help prevent accidents
Initiatives for changes like higher minimum insurance limits and greater coverage for broker and shipper liability may encourage commercial trucking companies to increase safety awareness and add safety equipment to their trucks. But motorists must remain aware of the risk of underride accidents every time they share the road with commercial trucks.