Sideguard Underride Accidents

Do Truck Sideguards Prevent Underride Accidents?

Underride accidents involving large trucks pose serious risks to road users, resulting in more fatalities and serious injuries than most other types of truck collisions. These accidents have led to so many deaths that there have been industrywide efforts to create technology that prevents vehicles from getting stuck under tractor-trailers. Sideguards have become more widely used in recent years, with many industry experts pushing for sideguards to be required in multiple positions on trucks.

But do sideguards actually work when it comes to preventing underride accidents? Learn more, and when you’re ready to discuss your truck accident in greater detail, call Bailey Javins & Carter at 800-497-0234.

An Overview of Underride Accidents

Underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle becomes trapped underneath the rear or side of a large truck, frequently leading to severe injuries or fatalities for occupants. These accidents typically occur in situations where the smaller vehicle collides with the rear or side of the truck, perhaps due to the smaller vehicle losing control and crashing into the larger vehicle or the larger vehicle switching lanes without checking their blind spot. 

The force of the larger truck generally rips off the top of the smaller vehicle and leaves the driver completely unable to control the car. These are a pervasive issue in the trucking industry, and substantial research has been done on how to lower underride accident rates.

What Sideguards Do

Truck sideguards, also known as underride guards or side underride protection systems, are installed along the sides of trucks to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding underneath in the event of a collision. They are made of sturdy panels or barriers mounted near the lower edge of the truck’s trailer. When a smaller vehicle does crash into that area, the guard should deflect or absorb the impact of an oncoming vehicle, preventing it from going underneath the truck. These are essentially side-vehicle versions of the underride guards that are installed on the back of tractor-trailers. While the vast majority of trucks have rear underride guards, fewer have sideguards. Different groups have pushed to increase the number of trucks with sideguards.

The Limitations of Sideguards

While truck sideguards have shown promise in mitigating underride accidents, they are not infallible. One significant limitation is that sideguards are largely effective in preventing underride accidents at certain angles and speeds. In collisions occurring at higher speeds or from certain angles, the force of the impact may overwhelm the sideguards. This causes the sideguards to partially or completely fail.

However, this isn’t enough reason to abandon the idea of sideguards altogether. Consider seatbelts, for example; they are most effective when worn in a specific way by occupants of certain sizes. When crashes exceed certain speeds or apply force in certain directions, they may fail or even make injuries worse. Still, the use of seatbelts saves enough lives to make these small risks worth it. Technology does not have to be perfect to be worth using.

How Sideguards May Affect Accident Rates

The effectiveness of truck sideguards is an ongoing topic of discussion among leaders within the trucking industry. The NHTSA has released research indicating that sideguards do not prevent accidents or save lives, but groups like IIHS indicate that this research is ill-designed and that sideguards save more than 10 times as many lives as predicted by NHTSA. 

Proponents argue that sideguards have the potential to save lives by preventing vehicles from sliding underneath trucks in collisions. Those against the use of this technology claim that sideguards are not enough and that further research is necessary to save lives. Those in the first group claim that even though sideguards are not perfect, they are still worth using and that waiting for a flawless solution just means that more lives will be lost while we wait.

Reach Out to Bailey Javins & Carter to Start Your Claim

Have you been injured in a truck accident in Charleston? The team at Bailey Javins & Carter is here to help you explore your options and start your claim. Set up your consultation right away by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 800-497-0234.