You may think that staying far behind tractor-trailers is the safest way to share the Texas highway with them. You allow them to pass rather than traveling with one looming in your rear-view mirror. This is one example of the anxiety trucks create in many drivers of smaller vehicles. Such drivers understand that an accident can occur in the blink of an eye, and the results are often catastrophic.
Unfortunately, keeping your distance is not always a foolproof way to avoid an accident with a big rig. In fact, the deadliest type of encounter with a tractor trailer may seem to come out of nowhere when you have no time to prepare and no options for avoiding a collision.
Deadly truck accidents
Side underride collisions occur when a smaller vehicle strikes the side of a tractor trailer and continues moving under the trailer. These horrific accidents are often fatal because the impact is right at the level of your windshield. The lower edge of the trailer may shear the roof from the smaller vehicle, quickly killing the driver and passengers.
These horrific collisions can happen when a tractor-trailer is driving across lanes of traffic, backing into a parking lot or attempting a U-turn in the road. It takes time for a driver to maneuver a big rig through these moves, so it can be especially dangerous when truckers perform them at night.
Possible preventative measures
Because the side of a tractor-trailer may blend into the colors of dusk or darkness, you may not see it stretched across your path until your headlights illuminate it. By that time, it might be too late for you to avoid a collision, especially if you are traveling at highway speeds. Traffic safety advocates recommend truck owners and trucking companies take measures to prevent side underride collisions by taking the following actions:
- Avoiding situations that require them to block travel lanes
- Painting trailers in multiple, contrasting colors and patterns
- Using reflective tape generously on the sides of trailers and keeping it clean and fresh
- Checking that all required marker lights are clean and in working order
- Installing additional marker lighting beyond what the law compels
While not yet required by law, side underride guards are another way to prevent the tragedy of an underride collision. These metal bars stop could stop vehicles from traveling under a truck from the side, possibly preventing fatal injuries.