Commercial big rigs are enormous - compared to smaller cars and trucks. In fact, a commercial truck weighs nearly 80,000 pounds when it is fully loaded. A regular sized car weighs just 3,000 pounds. As a result, nearly every accident involving a commercial big rig is catastrophic. One type of trucking accident, however, is especially dangerous: underride-trucking accidents.
Underride trucking accidents occur when a car strikes the back of a large commercial vehicle and slides underneath the rear impact guard. These accidents usually result in death, because the top of the car is sheered off and crushed upon impact.
Just how deadly are these accidents?
In 2008 alone there were 539 rear-end trucking accidents. These accidents resulted in 532 deaths. 40% of those accidents occurred at the corners of the rear impact guard - the weakest spot of the guard.
While large commercial vehicles are required by law to have rear impact guards attached to their vehicles to prevent these types of tragedies, they do not always work the way they are intended. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reviewed rear impact guards and found some troubling information. At just 35 mph, many rear impact guards that met U.S. Standards were compromised and resulted in the car sliding underneath the rear of the truck.
When the rear impact guards work - they save lives. When they fail, they usually result in tragic death. One of the most notable cases involved the beautiful Hollywood actress, Jayne Mansfield. In 1967, Jayne and two others died when their Buick Electra slid underneath a tractor-trailer. Incredibly, her three children sitting in the backseat survived.
After her public death, regulators began looking into the standards of rear impact guards. Yet, nothing was done until 1996 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lowered the maximum guard-to-ground distance to 22 inches. They also required reflective tape to be placed on the back of all rear impact guards.
Yet, some trucking companies still do not abide by these rules. Their rear impact guards may not even meet U.S. Standards. In addition, the reflective tape may be covered by mud, dirt, or debris - rendering it useless.
Contact Denver Trucking Accident Attorneys
If you have been injured, or have lost a loved one in a trucking accident in Denver, Aurora, or anywhere in the State of Colorado, you need an experienced Colorado truck accident attorney on your side.