Everyone knows that tractor-trailers and other trucks are dangerous — mostly because they are so large. A 40-ton truck can easily smash a car or push it out of the way. However, one of the biggest size-related dangers that trucks pose to other vehicles and drivers isn’t related to their weight — it is due to their height. Because trucks ride so high above the ground, they can sometimes ride over the bumper, hood or trunk of a car during an accident, causing the passenger compartment of the car to smash directly into the tractor or trailer. These accidents are often termed override or underride wrecks.
A truck’s cab, called a tractor on a semi-truck, poses unique dangers. The bumpers on big-rigs, construction vehicles and other trucks are often high off the ground. When they ram into another vehicle from behind, they have the potential to glide right over the bumper and the trunk, colliding directly with a car’s rear windshield and pushing into the passenger cabin. To guard against these override accidents, many trucks have bumper guards that extend close to the ground.
Trailers present a similar risk. If a car rear-ends a trailer with a high bumper, the car may continue until it is underneath the trailer and the car’s passengers have collided directly with the back of the truck. While federal rules require guards on the back of most trailers to help prevent these underride accidents, these so-called ICC bumpers, named after an Interstate Commerce Commission rule, are not always effective, especially when collisions occur at an angle and the car only contacts a small part of the guard.
Underride and override accidents also occur when a car is crushed under the side of the trailer. This can happen when a car or truck switches lanes or when a truck makes a tight turn. Manufacturers have designed side guards to help prevent this type of accident, and while a few states require these guards, Florida and the federal government do not.
If you or a family member has been hurt in a wreck with a commercial vehicle, speak to the experienced Sarasota County truck accident attorneys at the firm of Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni & Walsh to learn about your rights.