South Florida, particularly Miami and Fort Lauderdale, is a popular destination for a variety of large commercial trucks and big rigs. From organic produce to hazardous chemicals, commercial trucks populate the freeways and highways throughout South Florida. The mere presence of these 80,000 pound big rigs on the roads increases the risk of catastrophic accidents, so the Federal Motor Carrier Administration has enacted specific rules and regulations designed to improve safety and visibility. One of those regulations includes the installation and use of rear impact guards.
Rear-impact guards are designed to prevent a motor vehicle from sliding underneath the back of the commercial truck in a rear-impact accident. Unfortunately, even when a rear impact guard meets U.S. standards, they often fail, leading to fatal trucking accidents.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety put rear-impact guards to the test this year and the results were rather disturbing. At just 35 mph, the rear-impact guard on many commercial trucks gave way, allowing the car to slide underneath the carrier, shearing off the top of the car, and crushing the occupants inside.
Just how deadly are these types of trucking accidents? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reviewed data from 2008 and found that of the 539 vehicles that struck the back of big rigs or semi-trucks, there were 532 fatalities.
Causes of Underride Trucking Accidents
There are many reasons an underride trucking accident can occur due to a trucking company or truck driver’s negligence. Some of those causes include:
- No rear impact guard installed on the back of the truck
- Impact guard installed that did not meet U.S. standards
- No reflectors or reflective tape on the back of the truck
- Dirt or mud covered reflectors
- Broken taillights
- Inexperienced truck drivers
- Truck driver inattention